Strange Shores, Outrage, and Black Skies–Arnaldur Indriðason
I last read one of Arnaldur Indridason’s Inspector Erlendur books back in November of 2011. At the end of Hypothermia, Erlendur got all depressed and decided to take a trip out to the East Fjords to mope about. I was at the library a couple months ago and saw there was a new book in the series, Strange Shores. I checked it out and knew I hadn’t missed anything because Erlendur was still out on the fjords moping about.
But then I finished it and the ending was so shocking that I began investigating online (you know, did that ending really happen?–that sort of thing). That’s when I learned that I’d somehow missed two Inspector Erlendur books, Outrage and Black Skies. That didn’t make any sense, of course, because how could Erlendur possibly spend two entire books moping about on the fjords?
Well, it ended up making sense as Erlendur’s detective partners each got their own book in between Hypothermia and Strange Shores. Elinborg is the lead detective in Outrage; Sigurdur Oli takes charge in Black Skies. Erlendur isn’t in either of them. Somebody occasionally wonders aloud where Erlendur is, but then another character just mentions he’s still moping about on the fjords. Taking the main character out of detective series sounds like a recipe for disappointment, but I thought both books were on par with the rest (and even better than the series stinker, Arctic Chill). Strangely enough, I think either one would make a fine place to start with the series.
So that’s all I have to say about that. Here’s a picture of the nine Inspector Erlendur books that have been released so far in English. They’re in order starting with Jar City and going to the right. I took this picture because I was going to write the definitive guide to the Inspector Erlendur series. I lost my motivation for that project.
(the complete inspector erlendur series)
The Phantom Tollbooth–Norton Juster
I read three other books in November. Norton Juster’s The Phantom Tollbooth is a children’s book that somehow ended up on my Books to Read list. (Really, I have no idea how it got on there.) Although I enjoyed some of the wordplay and puns, the book was far too heavy-handed and preachy for my tastes. It made for a decent airplane book, but I wouldn’t recommend it.
The Gigantic Beard That Was Evil–Stephen Collins
Stephen Collins’ awkwardly titled The Gigantic Beard That Was Evil is something I picked up to give my brother as a Christmas present. He usually has a gigantic beard himself, so I thought it would be appropriate. Unfortunately, about two days after I bought the book, my brother shaved off most of his beard so he could go to a Halloween party as the Wolverine. I saw pictures of his costume; although he has the physique for it, he took his sideburns down too much and ended up looking less like the Wolverine and more like one of those hipsters who only drinks local beer and moans about it if you happen to like Blue Moon.
Our Story Begins–Tobias Wolff
I wrote about Tobias Wolff’s short story collection The Night in Question in last month’s SIBR post. I liked it so much that I went out and bought the only other collection by the author that I could find. It’s an anthology of new and selected stories. The downside of Our Story Begins is that it includes 12 of the 15 stories I originally read in The Night in Question. That’s really not much of a negative, though, as I liked most of them the first time through (the exception was “Lady’s Dream”). The upside is that the book also includes nine earlier stories and ten brand new ones. So far, Tobias Wolff has a 97% short story success rate with me. That puts him right up there with T.C. Boyle.
(the phantom beard begins)
I also read the remaining short stories from the A.J. Fikry list:
“Lamb to the Slaughter”–Roald Dahl
“The Bookseller”–Roald Dahl
“Indian Camp”–Ernest Hemingway
“A Good Man Is Hard to Find”–Flannery O’Connor
“A Perfect Day For Bananafish”–J.D. Salinger
“What We Talk About When We Talk About Love”–Raymond Carver
“The Tell-Tale Heart”–Edgar Allan Poe
“In the Cemetery Where Al Jolson Is Buried”–Amy Hempel
“The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County”–Mark Twain
“The Beauties”–Anton Chekov
“The Doll’s House”–Katherine Mansfield