New Year's Resolve

Whew! The last six weeks brought a welcome flood of work as well as  the usual holiday flurry. This blog was one of the casualties, but I'm determined to get back on track.

 For starters, here's my New Year's present to you: a short list, a very short list, of absolutely delightful books to see you through this long, dark January that lies before us.

The first is Dead Dancing Women by Elizabeth Buzzelli. I confess that, even after meeting the author, I had my doubts that any "troll" (yooper slang for Michiganders who live below the bridge, particularly the urbanites in SE Michigan) could capture the characters, landscapes and atmospherics of the north country.

But Elizabeth does it all--beautifully, comically, convincingly, entertainingly. Chapter after chapter, I found myself becoming progressively more homesick and, yes I have to confess, just a trifle envious of her easy prose style.

 My suggestion is to put this near the top of your "Must Read" list. It's the kind of book that was made for a winter weekend, best when enjoyed with an afghan, a cup of tea, a plate of cookies, and a sleepy cat (or dog).

 The other book I fell in love with is The Pyramid by Henning Mankell, a set of short stories that provides the backdrop to the Kurt Wallender series--a series, by the way, that has made Mankell a publishing superstar in Europe and, now, the U.S.

I don't know how he works his magic exactly, but with a direct, spare, Hemmingway-esque narrative, Mankell draws me in to his stark Scandinavian world, deeper and deeper. There's an old saying that conservatives are  liberals who got mugged on the way to the future. Wallender, the main character, is like that: a beaten-up rationalist, a tough cop with a persistent streak of innocence, a man with no illusions who is, nonetheless, still capable of flinching at the violence he encounters. I find him irresistible.

 Well, I said it would be a short list. But there will be more.

And, in the meantime, if you've read either of the two authors, feel free to share your thoughts. 

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