Writers and the New Year

by Alafair Burke

It’s another Monday, but today we kick off not just another week, but a new year in a new decade.  I thought it would be fun to check in with some writer friends to see what was on their minds as we said goodbye to 2010.

Lee Child, author of Worth Dying For:

Well, I kind of share Reacher’s super-pedantic nature and feel that every day is the start of a new year.  Calendar?  We don’t need no stinkin’ calendar!  And because I’m a generally contented guy I often feel … kind of gloomy about Jan 1, not because I’m down, but because usually the old year was so great I can’t see how the new one can be anything other than worse.  It usually isn’t, of course, which merely reinforces the cycle twelve months later.

I’ll be up late, probably watching NBC, and I’ll get into the moment.  But then I’ll go – 2011?? WTF?? How old am I now???  I’ll take the day off on the 1st, and then be back at work on the 2nd, laying bricks, trying to get the new book done.

Lisa Unger, author of Fragile

Since Ocean was born five years ago, we’ve spent our New Year’s Eve at home. When she entered the scene, focus really shifted to our domestic life.  The idea of partying as the clock strikes midnight has somewhat lost its appeal.  Last year we had a sitter scheduled. But Ocean got sick, so we stayed home with her and made marshmallow s’mores in our chiminea. Then Jeffrey and I celebrated with cosmos by the pool after she went to sleep. It was probably one of the best New Year’s celebrations ever.  This year, our long-time sitter is sort of on call.  She knows we might go out after Ocean goes to sleep for a little while, just to say we had a date night on New Year’s Eve.  But we’ll likely be home way before midnight.  I am married to my best friend, and our home is my favorite place in the world.  So it’s hard to imagine a better place to start the new year!  Chances are that’s where you’ll find us when the ball drops.

Karin Slaughter, author of Broken

Okay, well, I am pretty boring.  I always have a book due at the end of the year, so I spend the week between Christmas and New Years polishing the hell out of it so I can have it in my editors’ inboxes when they get back to work.  This is to say that I am so exhausted by the time the new year rolls around that I am generally in bed by ten.  Hey, it’ll still be next year when I get up.

Jonathon King, author of Midnight Guardians

My New Year’s will be grand celebrating in Ocean City, NJ and this year will start off with a new job at 8 am in the warm city of Pompano Beach, FL. Back to the world of paid employ, the writing may slow but never stop. Let us all be optimistic in 2011 and let a storm of reading break out everywhere!

Laura Lippman, author of The Girl in the Green Raincoat (to be published Jan. 18). And, fingers crossed, Unnamed Lippman #16, slated for August and now staggering toward completion.

For several years now, I’ve been doing the one-word resolution challenge at my website. This year, I chose “be,” recognizing that I am destined to fail. I think writers, by temperament, suck at being in the moment. They’re always rewriting the encounter that just happened (“I SHOULD have said”) or thinking about the work ahead. It’s a crazy way to be. Or not be, I guess.

But for personal reasons that you’ll understand even if I don’t want to broadcast them to Murderati readers — because I am trying very hard to have a hard, bright line between my personal and public lives — I’m trying to find some moments to be in the moments. It is, as the Zen masters promise, pretty great. Still, I suck at it.

And here’s a story I haven’t told: A few weeks before David Thompson died, I had a very brisk IM conversation with him via Facebook. I was working, I have so little margin for error in how I spend my time now that I am often forced to be brisk. Polite, but brisk. That turned out to be my last contact with him. I know I am supposed to turn this into an object lesson about how we never know and I should feel awful about the fact that I didn’t put down my work that morning and have a long, chatty conversation with David. Except, the great thing about David is that he totally understood that I was working and couldn’t do that. He understood what writers’ days were like, he understood why I was having trouble deciding whether I could come to the store in October. He was understanding personified. So instead of beating myself up for not stopping work that morning, I celebrate the fact that I knew someone like David.

I lost two friends and my father-in-law this year. I have never had a year of such extreme highs and lows, and I wonder if it has to be that way. And if it does have to be that way, what would I choose — a year of highs and lows, or a muddle through the middle? I honestly can’t decide. So I’m just going to try to be and roll with what comes. Almost every novel I write centers on one basic idea: Anything can happen to anyone at any time. I control nothing. Maybe that’s why I became a writer, where I get to enjoy the illusion of control over my pages and my characters.

Val McDermid, author of Trick of the Dark (UK) and most recently in the US, Fever of the Bone

I will be celebrating Hogmanay in traditional Scottish fashion. I’ll be up in my home town in Fife at my mother’s house, where we start the evening with one of the finest fish and chip suppers in the world. We’ll sit around and blether (that would be “chat” to you…) then when it gets close to midnight, we’ll charge our glasses — whisky for me and my mum, Diet Coke for the American teetotal wife, and apple juice for the kid — listen to the bells ring out on the TV, get tearful and drink our toast to the New Year. We’ll make some phone calls and texts to friends and family, then my mum and the kid head for bed while the wife and I go out to party. (She still feels bewildered at the notion of leaving the house to start partying after midnight. I guess they don’t do that in Michigan)

The party we go to is the same party I have been attending for 35 years. So, lots of auld acquaintance, whisky, Scottish country dancing and general catching up. We usually make it to bed these days by five or so. I guess I just don’t have it in me any more to stay up drinking whisky all night then end up at my friend Donald’s house to eat bacon and eggs around nine. Later that day we’ll visit friends and family. Next day is the traditional football (ie soccer) match. It’s always a local derby and we will sit in the director’s box (a very posh word for a little enclosure in the main stands, open to the elements and in line with the prevailing wind…) and freeze as we cheer on Raith Rovers to victory. It’s what we always do. On the rare occasions I’ve missed out (mostly because of seasonal illness) I’ve felt out of kilter all year. So I guess it’s a very important ritual for me.

(Ed. note: I love Val’s Scottish-isms but thank her kind soul for translations.  I grew up in Kansas!)

Jan Burke, author of The Messenger

On New Year’s Eve, we’ll happily spend time with friends. Then I become a curmudgeon, because the evening is a finalist for Least Favorite Holiday, one during which too many people try too hard to have fun — especially one of neighbors, who will probably make her annual attempt set someone’s roof on fire with a bottle rocket. I treat that evening — Amateur Drinkers’ Night — as if an announcement has gone out declaring that zombies will be migrating through my neighborhood: I stay inside after sundown.

Michael Koryta, author of The Cypress House

I have little excitement and less wit on New Year’s Day, it seems. Beyond making a resolution to get in better shape and then promptly falling asleep on the couch with a beer in my hand, my only consistent ritual is in totaling up the number of books read and words written. This year’s totals are disappointing: 76 books read versus the 103 I finished in 2009 (including a riveting thriller titled 212) and 228,037 words written. I topped 400,000 words in 2009, so that’s a big drop, and, since the vast majority of them end up on the cutting room floor, it’s a little alarming. I’ll try to find someone to blame immediately. Or maybe I should just get back to work…

(Ed. note: 228K words is disappointing? Good thing he snuck in that plug for my book, or I would really hate this guy.)

Jonathan Hayes, author of A Hard Death

My life – as a New Yorker, as a forensic pathologist, as a writer – always feels like it’s teetering on the brink of total collapse. I try to use New Year’s as an annual brake, as an opportunity to slow down, to actually concentrate on something. I like the tradition of a clean slate for the coming year, but my best resolutions have involved working on mindfulness, or developing a skill.
 
For example, when I was a contributing editor at Martha Stewart Living, I decided to work on my sense of smell. I kicked off the fresh year with a collection of beautiful essential oils, and a stack of books on scent and perfumery. The benefits – a more focused palate, a greater awareness of the olfactory world around me, a richer sensuality in my writing – have been long lasting.
 
This year, I’ve decided to learn about magic – street magic, not stage or fantasy magic. I’ve bought some decks of cards, a book and an instructional DVD; I expect I’ll be crap at it, but the discipline of reading, trying and practicing will be good for me. At one level, this is about becoming conscious of my hands again, about the mechanical pleasures of touch and proprioception. At another, it’s about trying to understand how illusions work – the art of managing expectation, of direction and misdirection. Mostly, though, it’s about sheer goofy fun.

Lawrence Block, author of A Drop of the Hard Stuff (coming in May) and 40 (Ed. note: Damn him!) backlist ebooks just out from Open Road.

Lynne and I will have a wonderful time New Year’s Eve, thanks to the Power of Diminished Expectations. A nice early dinner at the bistro around the corner, then a little time in front of the TV, capped by some network’s annual necrology, an irresistible combination of sweet sadness and delight at still being here. And so to bed.

Then the New Year begins with a January trip to Taipei and Beijing to meet readers and publishers, and from then on I’ve got a book to revise and another to write, and pub dates in May and September, and more ebooks coming out, including a pair of e-riginals in the spring, and I’ll tell you, I’ve got too much on my plate to leave room for any New Year’s resolutions. Except one, which I expect to keep, and commend to you all—to do as Warren Zevon advised, i.e. to enjoy every sandwich.

SJ Rozan, author of On the Line

I kicked off the new year as I have for over a decade now: a very long walk.  This year, 7 miles, through lower Manhattan.  I get up early, no matter when I went to bed, and just wander.  At first the streets are empty except for people still staggering home; then they come alive.  I do this every year, wherever I am.  (One of my favorite New Year’s Day walks was through Queens.)  It sort of reboots my head for the year to come.

Rosemary Harris, author of Dead Head

Like the Marx Brothers I’ll be kicking off the new year with a night at the opera – La Traviata at the Met, then a late dinner at Gabriel’s and a trek to the roof to watch the fireworks in Central Park. My husband claims that this year he’ll let me drag him to Marie’s Crisis Cafe to sing show tunes with the boys until the sun comes up but it hasn’t happened yet. Will keep you posted.

Megan Abbott, author of The End of Everything

I spent my youth determined to make every New Year’s Eve unforgettable–and while I remember none of them now, I’m sure they were memorable at the time. In more recent years, I’ve spent my New Year’s Eves hammering out resolutions–and while I remember none of them now, I’m sure I carried them out and they changed my life in critical ways. This year, I’ve decided to take the pressure off entirely. And I’m hoping what that means is not what I fear it means: trawling TruTV while savoring some fine Trader Joe’s prosecco. … Happy 2011!

Michael Connelly, author of The Reversal

I only have two real goals in the new year. Break a hundred on the golf course and write the best Harry Bosch book so far. I think at least one of these is attainable.

(Ed. note: I have seen this man golf, so the next Bosch must be a real doozie.)

 

And finally, moi:

At midnight, 1/1/11, my husband and I celebrated our anniversary at the same party where, five year earlier, we quietly exchanged vows and rings by ourselves in the basement at midnight.  We made it legal the next day with paperwork, a witness, and a “nondenominational minister” we found on the internet, but our non-wedding is still the thing we celebrate.  I rang in the new year grateful that my husband is still my best friend, thankful for having two pretty kickass jobs as a law professor and writer, and blessed with generous, talented friends who helped make this post special.

So tell us: How’d you ring in 2011?  And what author do you plan to read this year for the first time? 

 

 

41 thoughts on “Writers and the New Year

  1. Barbie

    I was watching movies with my mom and brother at midnight. Then we went to the window to see the fireworks at the beach.

    Authors I'm gonna read for the first time? I have absolutely no idea. Any recommendations? ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. PK the Bookeemonster

    Terrific round up of authors….thanks for sharing!
    I was reading on New Years' Eve, my husband was playing a computer game. I turned out the light a few minutes before midnight because I couldn't keep my eyes open any longer to read the page but I was still awake when the fireworks started going off. New Years' Day we went to a movie, Tron: Legacy. It was bad … and I'm a Tron fan.
    When I was in school, I always used to babysit on that night (this would have been the early 80s). They always used to show the same three movies every year: Showboat, Top Hat, and Casablanca.

  3. Mark Terry

    For the second year the local bowling alley threw a party, so you rent lanes for unlimited bowling (and unlimited people) from 8:30 to 1:00 AM, so we and several of our friends rented 3 lanes and started with a party at our house, then spent the evening bowling with family and friends and partying.

    Hmmm, as for reading, dunno. I've got some books on my TBR by authors I either haven't read in a very long time (John LeCarre) or by authors I haven't read before (William Dietz), plus we'll see what comes up. Plenty of surprises in store.

  4. J.D. Rhoades

    Happy Anniversary, Alafair!

    My wife crashed early on New Year's Eve, so the Boy and I watched movies (SERENITY, THE EXPENDABLES) and watched the ball drop, then watched more movies (some Jackie Chan thing, the name of which escapes me right now) . Not the most exciting New Year, but it worked for us.

    For the New Year, I finished Lee Child's 61 HOURS, then tucked into Duane Swierczynski's EXPIRATION DATE. Loved the first, loving the second.

  5. Jen Forbus

    Happy Anniversary Alafair. Unlike you, New Year's Eve is usually my least favorite time of the year because of past events, so I don't do anything special. I also usually stay home to be with my dogs who don't take well to the gun fire and fireworks that plague the neighborhood on New Year's Eve. However, I'm always excited for a brand new year, for new opportunities and experiences. I'm excited about 2011 and very hopeful that it will be wonderful.

    Who do I plan to read for the first time? Well, I've already started with Martyn Waites. I have Jonathon King's first book in the queue as well. Daniel Palmer, Andrew Vachss, Sara Henry, Ace Adkins, Thomas Perry and Declan Hughes will all likely make my first time list as well. Those are the ones I see in the immediate future. In 2010 I read 47 new-to-me authors. I hope to top that in 2011.

    Happy New Year!

  6. Grace

    Happy New Year and thanks for the wonderful post. We spent NY's eve by sharing our home cooked meal of Shrimp, Pasta, and Pesto, then watching The Closer DVD''s, followed by reading in bed, the TV muted while we waited for the ball to drop in NYC. We prefer the quiet of our own home these days on New Year's and then the holiday meal the next day with family and friends. I have found so many new authors on this site and this year I have placed Anrew Taylor's Naked to the Hangman on my nightstand. The best to you in 2011.

  7. Sylvia

    Happy Anniversary Alafair!

    For New Year's I watched New Yorker's ring it in in my time zone (pacific) so said Happy New Year to the family at 9pm pacific and went to sleep.

    I'll be skimming through lists looking for new authors to read for the year.

  8. Brett Battles

    Great post! I run in the New Year with my daughters watching the countdown on TV (my son was asleep three hours by that point.) We celebrated with sparkling cider, then it was off to bed!! Not sure who I'm going to read for the first time, but my guess is they'll be more than one new to me author by the time I look back next December.

  9. TerriMolina

    Happy New Year and Happy Anniversary!
    You know, Lee is the only person I know who's sad to see 2010 end. hah
    We rang in the new year with a few friends over (some of them played poker while the others of us played rockband and sing-star). Since everyone I know lives in the central time zone I sent out Happy New Year greetings an hour late and because I was just as tired, I almost sent "Happy New York". ;-P

  10. christy

    what an interesting post that was — and Happy Anniversary to you!

    I never like to go out on New Years anymore, to much hassle and hustle — spent time with family and watched the countdown on the tube –

    I always seem to begin the first two weeks of the year with non-fiction (maybe do to resolutions, though I don't write them down) so at the moment I'm on The 4 Hour Body by the amazing and interesting Tim Ferriss — but I'm always adding (old and new) to my TBR stack and I need to get started soon –, If it gets too large, it makes me anxious! ๐Ÿ™‚ I have some John Ramsey Miller in there and Steven James, John D. MacDonald, Michael Connelly and Grisham are a couple right off the top of my head, so I'm looking forward to getting back on the fiction track over the weekend –

    Happy New Year to all!

    Christy

  11. Alafair Burke

    Maybe I'm still on new year time because I'm just getting started this morning. Yuck.

    Until 1/1 became my anniversary I was never into new years. It seemed very forced and desperate, with everyone trying to convince themselvees they were having fun. I think that's why we are happy to have an out of town house party to attend. The city is actually a terrible place to ring in a new year.

    As for books, I just got Still Missing by Chevy Stevens and The Damage Done by Hilary Davidson to read, both new for me. I'll also vouch for everyone in today's blog post as authors and humans if you haven't read any of them.

  12. Allison Brennan

    Fantastic line-up, Alafair! I love it.

    Authors for the first time . . . hmmm. I'm reading an arc by Raymond Benson and I haven't read him before. I've read most suspense/thriller/romance authors I've wanted to read at least once, but I'm always on the lookout for debuts. I can't look to my bookshelf for hints because, well, I've read most of those books. When I judge the RITAs I usually find one author I end up loving. Three or four years ago it was Kristan Higgins–romantic comedy. Light, funny, and just what I need after writing a dark storyline. So I might try to find another author like her because she "only" writes two books a year. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  13. Spencer Seidel

    Great post, Alafair! I had plans to write an eloquent goodbye-to-2010 blog post as the last minutes of 2010 ticked away but ended up falling asleep after a huge meal and a couple of cocktails. Oh, well.

    I'm hoping to read a bunch of new-for-me authors this year, just like I did in 2010. From last year were: Stephen Jay Schwartz, James Hayman, Thomas Harris, Gene Doucette, and, well, the list is long. I don't know who it's going to be this year, but I'm sure there'll be a bunch.

  14. JT Ellison

    What fun! We did it up small – a lovely dinner, then home to watch the ball drop and indulge in a bottle of Veuve Cliquot. Good champagne is a must have for us on New Years.

    I have a bunch of authors I'm aiming to try – mostly by stopping purchasing new books and reading the ones I already have. Louise Penny, PD Martin, Jonathan Franzen are at the top. That's as close to a resolution as I'm willing to make.

  15. Kim C

    Marianne Delacourt's Sharp Shooter just turned up in my mailbox so she's up next. Not an easy book to get my hands on. Sheesh.

  16. judy wirzberger

    You're post is a marvelous new year's gift, an insight into some of my favorite authors and an introduction to others. I look forward to having my book represented by Amy Rennert and published by Michael Paetsch. Ah, the perfect dream.

  17. Dru

    Great post. Happy Anniversary Alafair!

    This was the first time in 5 years that I was up at midnight…went to bed 5 minutes later.

    Last year I discovered 55 new-to-me authors and this year I hope to increase that number. So many great authors that contributed to the post and and I look forward to reading the works of those I haven't read before.

  18. Alafair Burke

    JT, We like the same champagne. I wish I could say that only one bottle was involved, but I choose to believe the other people at the party drank the bulk of it.

    Allison, "Only" two books a year, huh? You and that Michael Koryta… Grr!

  19. Rae

    New Year's Eve was very mellow – a small group of pals eating cracked crab and drinking champagne.

    As to new-to-me authors for this year, I won't know until I open my new box of review books from the lovely people at Crimespree Magazine ๐Ÿ˜‰

  20. Alafair Burke

    Rae, Don't you love Crimespree? I don't know how the Jordans have the time to do so much!

    Dru, 55 new to you writers in one year? Thank the book gods for readers like you.

  21. JB Lynn

    Terrific post!

    I spent hours on New Year's Eve reading. (What could be more decadent?)

    This month I'm going to give new-to-me authors Chevy Stevens and Stephen Jay Schwartz a try.

  22. Laura Lippman

    Is Koryta counting his grocery list? His e-mails to his agent? I don't think he says 400,000 words in a typical year.

  23. KDJames

    Happy Anniversary and New Year, Alafair! What a fun posting of diverse celebrations.

    I'm on day four (I think) of a much needed four-and-a-half-day weekend break away from the day job. My daughter and her BF are in town visiting and there have been so many people in and out of my house in the past week, I'm not sure which of those days was New Year's Eve. It's all been a big happy blur of food and conversation and laughter. Must have been the night I paid for cab fare and the kids all went downtown and I ended up with several quiet hours to write.

    Between Murderati and Twitter, I'm constantly finding new-to-me authors. I couldn't possibly list them all but I'm so appreciative of the glut of talent around here. Even though it's distracting as hell. Perhaps one day I'll be included on someone else's new-to-me list… and perhaps I should get back to writing. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  24. Alafair Burke

    Chris,
    I've never heard of Yaak, but any town with a Dirty Shame Saloon's all right by me.

    JB and KD, I'm glad that you're finding new authors through Murderati. Our celebration of writers at all phases of their careers is just one of many reasons I'm proud this group let me join in.

    And Laura, I never thought about it, but maybe Koryta is proof that spoken plus written words equals a constant.

  25. Stephen Jay Schwartz

    FANTASTIC POST, ALAFAIR!

    What a wonderful look into the worlds of our favorite authors. And I'm fascinated with Jonathan Hayes' olfactory work. I do love scents and I'm quite aware that they are the passageway to memories. So I'm with him on that – what a great idea!

  26. Zoรซ Sharp

    Great post, Alafair – and all who took part. And Happy Anniversary to you!

    We spent New Year's Eve embroiled in a marathon game of mah jongg with friends, having had a fondue and been for a long walk – not necessarily in that order.

  27. Pari Noskin Taichert

    Our family — including the two Labrador retrievers — cuddled on the couch and watched episodes of Buffy. I drank a micro-split of champagne at midnight; the kids and hubby had sparkling pomegranate juice. Mellow. Mellow and lovely.

  28. Kate Gallison

    On New Year's Eve a bunch of our friends came over to eat gumbo and pecan pie and consume drinks of varying degrees of strangeness. Getting the party ready was a bit hectic due to travel problems ( http://kategallison.blogspot.com ).Our party happens every year, except for 2000, when Harold had a gig with Cletus McBride's band and I went along with him rather than give the party by myself.
    Thirty years ago, when we still lived in Trenton, I set fire to the buffet with Leanne's fondue pot. We used a box of salt to put it out. That's as wild as the party ever got.
    As the years pass, the guests stay soberer and leave earlier. We used to put the clocks three hours ahead when we all had little children and send everyone home at ten.
    Happy New Year, Alafair. Drop by next year if you're in town.

  29. Michael Koryta

    That's fiction, Laura! Although fiction is still much more real than the idea of me having a grocery list. Someone has to chase your pace. You're the one typing away in the back of the room at WIP every year while the rest of us try to doze away our hangovers…

    You just had to jab at MC's golf game, didn't you, Alafair? Happy Anniversary!

  30. Sal Towse

    We spent the evening with six old friends far away from the rumble that is North Beach on New Year's Eve. After the other four left, we continued talking until two in the morning and then crashed in the spare bedroom (as planned in advance). Woke up at 8A. Two other old friends joined the four of us for breakfast and we walked at Shoreline Park for five miles or so in a very brisk brisk brisk chill breeze, yakking all the way. As a certified introvert, I probably yakked enough to hold me through the end of February.

    As for writers to read, there are several multi-foot-tall stacks of books threatening to tip over next to my reading chair. Some of the writers are old favorites. Amongst the others I'm hoping to discover some "why didn't I ever read this writer before?" gems, akin to when I read Chandler just a few short years ago. Why had I waited so long?

    (Lovely idea for a New Year's post, Alafair. Happy anniversary!)

  31. Kaye Barley

    What a great post this is! Thank you!

    Happy New Year and an even Happier Anniversary, Alafair. I love this picture of you and your dear husband – you are just beautiful!! (Wish I could see your shoes!) . All these pictures are just too fun – especially, I think, SJ's.

    We had a very quiet evening at home. I said a very quiet "thank you" that my Donald made it through that "incident on May 14th" (as we refer to his heart attack).

    New writers we're gonna try? Neil Gaiman, thanks to the Gaiman quote J.D. left at Facebook. Blew me away!

  32. Alafair Burke

    Oh Kaye, you do know me to wonder about the shoes. They were actually quite reasonable since I anticipated many hours of dancing into the new year.

    Pari, I'm so delighted to know you are also a Buffy fan. Two years ago my husband got me the entire series on DVD for Christmas so we could watch it together (he was new to it). We were done by summer!

  33. Eve Kotyk

    I totally loved this blog post. Everyone is different in the way they greet the New Year. Let me see, I read 64 books this year, and I wrote 200,000 words. Oh, and I read until I fell asleep on New Year's Eve which was somewhere before the witching hour.

  34. Dao

    I had a New Year's Eve dinner with my writing friends at an Indian restaurant, then helped a friend set up her new bed before going home to watch the ball drop. My new year reading was Lee Child's newest book, Worth Fighting For. On New Year's Day, another friend and I helped the same friend moved. So far, this had been the best NYE/NYD ever.

  35. L. A. Welge

    Great Gator Michael Connelly's Facebook posting linked me to this wonderful site and thus I'm compelled to offer my two Lincoln cents, not senseless, nor censorious: verbal language is about 100k years of age while written language is only a tenth as temporally existent. So you published author-writers exercise 10x power to influence, challenge and entertain we, your fellow, mostly grateful fellow citizens and readers. Muchas gracias y feliz ano nuevo senors y senoras.

  36. Jonathan Hayes

    Stephen, the olfactory thing has been fun, and has had lasting benefits. I do take the time to smell things more often, and more consciously – when I smell something, just walking around, I try to ask myself what it is, and how I would describe it.

    Writing about smells is a really challenging thing – the language of scent isn't as evolved as the language of, say, touch, so we tend to default to saying it smelled like what the thing is. Some writers are amazing about aroma – Giuseppe di Lampedusa's THE LEOPARD springs to mind. One of my favourite writers is the neuroscientist/perfume critic Luca Turin, a real genius. His older perfume critiques are a delight to read; more recently, he's been defaulting to references to other perfumes that are pretty much lost on me (perfume is not inherently that interesting to me), but you can still see he's got it eg a recent review for the London Times:

    Scarlett (Cacharel) โ˜…vile ๏ฌ‚oral
    What were they thinking? The bottle cap feebly attempts to resemble the delicious Art Deco Coty
    powder boxes of the thirties ands ends up like a plastic loo freshener, the box looks like itโ€™s been
    pre-faded for years in a sunlit shop front. The perfume is dyed a mandarin-liqueur color that says
    โ€œstay awayโ€. The smell is so disastrously awful that I cannot imagine how perfumers like Olivier
    Cresp and Alberto Morillas can bear to be in the same room as this stu๏ฌ€, never mind compose it.
    Just so you know: it is a combination between a peony-type fruity-๏ฌ‚oral (the perfumery
    equivalent of a nasal mall-rat accent) with a huge overdose of dry-lemon and metallic musk ร  la
    Light Blue (the perfumery equivalent of a chainsaw). Quite simply one of the worst fragrances I
    have ever smelled. LT

  37. Julie Killian

    Except for The Reversal, I have read all of Micheal Connelly's books. I will be picking up The Reversal soon. My birthday is in January, sometimes I get books as well. I also enjoy reading James Patterson, Lee Childs, Robert Crais, Patricia Cornwell, as I have caught up with M. Connelly's book, I hope I can tackle all the books of another author as well….

    Happy New Year to everyone!

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