I am still alive, but the blog has now gone its longest without a post since it launched in 2007 (I am getting old as my blog languishes). So, I am back (though I will be as errant as ever throughout the year) with an explanation, a short reading report, and some small news.
First--and I have said this before, but I think my intent might stick--I am setting aside my war reading (and I'm going to take "Writing on War" off my masthead soon). To be an engaged citizen of sorts, I believe that it is important to be historically informed and perhaps know a bit about the experience and cost of war. That said, I've come to believe that my extended dive into war writing -- fiction and non-fiction -- was not entirely healthy for me, or it reflected something unhealthy (it was perhaps both causal and symptomatic).
So, since September, I've been reading all over the place, but not crime/mystery fiction so much. I've been reading some metaphysics and also Westerns. My agent has in mind that I might write a Western (he also had me write a synopsis of a post-apocalyptic Stephen King meets Michael Crichton sort of novel; everything is up in the air). I'd read a few Westerns before, but not many, and so I've been reading some lately -- and enjoying them much more than I had expected: Elmer Kelton, Louis L'Amour, Glendon Swarthout, and others.
First and foremost: L'Amour and Swarthout, what I've read so far, write really well: sharp prose, good characterization and action, etc. I think I was put off by the excessive branding (and sheer volume) of L'Amour, but it turns out -- at least based on the two titles that I read (Hondo and Down the Long Hills) -- that he deserves his reputation. In general too, in the Westerns that I've read, I've liked the heroic nature of the main characters and the lack of irony. I might just be on a sincerity kick.
On February 24, Crime City Central will be podcasting a story of mine, "Bridget's Conception." If you're amenable to the audio delivery of stories, please listen and let me know what you think.