Saturday, April 30, 2005

Sir Otto Strikes Again

Otto Penzler, master bookseller and world-leading expert in the genre, is no stranger to controversy. I get a huge kick out of Otto and enjoy spending time with him. He's unafraid to speak his mind and he's got a sharp, cutting wit that makes sitting through awards banquets (when you're at his table), an entirely different kind of experience.

Since I've been misquoted and "edited" enough by journalists in the past, I know not to take the below quotations (reported in The Book Standard) at face value. I know firsthand that Otto has enormous respect for various female authors, and I'm sure that his comments were presented in the most controversial fashion possible. That said, Otto ain't afraid to state his case and he - like many readers of hard-boiled crime fiction - ain't no fan of the cozie.

The comments below raise some interesting issues. Do you have a strong preference for hard-boiled fiction over cozies? Do you think there's a gender bias for who writes what? For my part, I've read my share of brilliant crime fiction by women and seen a few awful cat mysteries by men, but I know I'll take a Boston Teran over a 200-pager where a cupcake attacks a calico.
Genteel? Or bloody? That distinction between two sub-genres of mystery books—“cozies” and “hard-boiled”—may determine who wins the Edgar Award for Best Novel tonight. And the outcome could go to the heart of a debate within the industry: Are female mystery-writers—most often the authors of the more non-threatening, proper cozies—even worthy of the award? Otto Penzler, dean of mystery-writing in America, says no.

“The women who write [cozies] stop the action to go shopping, create a recipe, or take care of cats,” he says. “Cozies are not serious literature. They don’t deserve to win. Men take [writing] more seriously as art. Men labor over a book to make it literature. There are wonderful exceptions, of course—P.D. James, Ruth Rendell.”

Margaret Maron, president of Mystery Writers of America, which doles out the Edgars, and winner of one herself (for Bootlegger’s Daughter in 1993), sniffs at this bias, as she considers it, saying that good writers have been overlooked by the MWA as a result of unfair favoring of male authors and their bloodier plots. “Wit, humor, and domesticity haven’t been considered as significant as blood and violence. Charlotte MacLeod was never nominated,” Maron says, recalling the late author of a series of cozies. “She wrote some very funny mysteries, but they were considered ‘soft.’ She didn’t use the ‘F’ word. She wasn’t walking those mean streets.’ ”

That McLeod and the majority of authors who write cozies are women raises a thorny question. Are the Edgars—and, by extension, the mystery industry as a whole—simply sexist?

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Wrst adn Typnig Problems

So I brok emy wrist in a soccer match Sunday and monday found my arm ensconced i a cast (pruple!) from hand to elbow. Im, in the middle ofna editing phase right now, whuich is proving trying sinc e I cant reall y type so well. RThere is a certani amount of rfustratio n for someonme ike me whos used tp typing and wokring at a certain pace tobe slwed down so drasticaly.

But tehrs also somenthing of a freedom inm being permitted toi write emails and blog entries witht eh typos that most poeple use! No more spellchecK! No more porofreading! I wonder if my publisher will hbe happy with a new manuscript that looks like sthis.

Friday, April 15, 2005

Crazy Geek Reader Stats

Amazon offers new stats for books, evidently after incorporating aspects of Schott's Original Miscellany into their website. On the home page for a book, one can click on either a "concordance" or "text stats" link.

These links yielded the following information on The Program:

These are the 100 most frequently used words in this book.
across against arms away bear behind better call came chair chris come
cult day door down dray even eyes face father feel felt few fingers
first floor get girl go going good got gregg group guy hair hand hard
head himself hurwitz janie john know last leah left let light lips
little look looked man might mouth name nancy need new now old open own
people phone program pulled reggie right room said sat say see side
skate something stanley still take tannino td teacher tell thing think
thought three tim time tom took turned two voice want work years

Text Stats
Fog Index: 7.6 (this is a measure of readability - between 7 and 8 is ideal)
Complex Words: 9%
Flesch Index: 71.0
Syllables/Word: 1.5
Flesch-Kincaid Index: 5.8
Words/Sentence: 10.0

Number of: Fun Stats:
Characters: 365,999
Words: 62,171
Sentences: 6,231

So here's my new ad for The Program: BUY NOW AND GET 3,775 WORDS PER DOLLAR!

Monday, April 11, 2005

Rejoice, Baseball has Begun

Since I'm going to be chairing the Best Thriller Screenplay award for ITW and I'm on the Best Film committee for MWA, I'm not allowed to venture publicly (oh, okay, to publicly venture) opinions on thriller and mystery films. Bummer.

But Fever Pitch, the new Jimmy Fallon/Drew Barrymore movie, gladly falls into neither category. So get off your duff and go see it already. If you're a baseball fan, have baseball fans in your family, or have the misfortune to be married to a baseball fan, you'll get a kick out of it.

To that, I will merely add the following quotation, from no less an authority than John Cheever:
"All literary men are Red Sox fans. To be a Yankee fan in literary society is to endanger your life."

Of course, I believe that fans of the San Francisco Giants also tend to be Renaissance men, but then I might be biased.