Thursday, May 15, 2008

Carnival of the Criminal Minds #16

Just remember folks, all rides are free with your park pass. Which is also free. But don't worry - we'll make up for it with the price of cotton candy.

Yes, it's time for another Carnival of the Criminal Minds, started by our fearless lion-tamer, Barbara Fister. One of the challenges of hosting the 16th Carnival is making sure that there are a few new rides to hop on, and that the same terrain isn't being covered time and time again. I've tried to look for things worth mentioning that aren't always picked up on first time around by the crime community, as well as some of my personal favourites.

The Carnival has moved here from Germany, where Bernd Kochanowski hosted it at Internationale Krimis. Bernd threw out an interesting question last time: Which older post would you like to see in a blog museum?

Great question. I'll make a note of a few posts I think are worthy contenders. First, let's get this show on the road!

Trapeze Artists

There's no better place to start than with a mystery/crime fiction primer that's already generating a bit of debate in the affiliated forum. Lists can be debated endlessly, and we'll never all agree. Bernd mentioned Brian's article on black crime fiction authors at Carnival 15 and Brian's back this time with another thoughtful piece. I've already pointed out to him some oversights. Missing anyone you consider essential to the list? Be sure to chime in - he provides a link where you can egg his house, or you can always drop by his blog.

The newest must-read blog for fans of police procedurals and those who write them is Lee Lofland's The Graveyard Shift. If you haven't been reading it you should be.

Josephine Damien is a smart and sassy tell-it-like-she-sees-it type, and her posts are both insightful and brutally honest.

Going back to controversy, Richard Morgan has a bit of an idealistic view of the crime fiction community, and uses it as a club to beat Fantasy over the head with. Author Steve Mosby - whose blog is on my list of regular reads - chimes in with some thoughts, Nick Matmatas doesn't hold back with his opinion and the topic is still being widely discussed.
For my part, I feel a bit embarrassed by the whole mess, and may it give us all some pause, because we have enough squabbles on our side of the genre line to keep the wrestling fans entertained. If you check out post one of that forum thread, you'll also get the links to posts by Iain Rowan and Ali Karim on the subject.

Genre labeling is the topic that won't die, and Chabon and Ford weigh in on why the tags don't matter.

Haunted House

It's hard to categorize author Eileen Cook's witty blog, but this post has crime-writer inspiration potential, and definitely falls under the creepy category. Eileen is one of those authors that loves crime fiction, writes outside the genre, and hangs out with everyone, and she's a lot of fun.

The second post for the Haunted House category is the first one I'll mention that I think belonds in a blog museum, and it comes to us from Anne Frasier. Back in 2006, Anne posed the question, Are writers broken? and there are 52 comments on the post. It was thought-provoking, linked to all over the blogs, and has stayed with me all this time.

And I'll add that if there's a graveyard of blogs out there, Anne's is unfortunately probably going six feet under permanently. It's a sad thing when you see a wonderful blogger close up shop, although I certainly understand the time constraints, and also the frustrations that prompted Anne's departure from blogging. Honest, heart-felt, refreshing - that was Anne's contribution to the blogs, but in the end the politics were just too much.

I miss you, Anne.

Ferris Wheel

These are the things that go round and round, on a cycle. The new Heliotrope is out, and in the past they've scooped exclusive excerpts from books by Ken Bruen and others.

Meanwhile, Pulp Pusher remains one of the best new additions to crime zines to come up in quite some time. Push Daddy manages to keep a steady stream of new features on the site, and has had some wonderful interviews, articles and short stories featured there.

Al Guthrie is one of those guys that puts his head down and gets his work done, and has built up quite an archive with Noir Originals, publishing interviews, articles, reviews and fiction. Indulge in the recent interview with Tom Piccirilli and much, much more.

I Love A Mystery has their latest newsletter up, and that's worth checking out.

Moving to print, it's pretty cool to see the Crimedogs on the cover of the new Crimespree Magazine. Jon and Ruth Jordan always have great stuff packed between the covers of Crimespree, and I can't wait to catch up with the new issue.

Roller Coasters

They ride the highs and lows and share openly with their readers. These are the blogs of real authors, ones who step out from their solitude from time to time to share with us random thoughts and things that are going on in their world, both good and bad.

PJ Parrish - open with the emotions of writing, the fears that even award-winning authors struggle with, and hot topics as well, the annual Bad Sex Awards posts are worthy contenders for that blog museum, and not to be missed.

It's hard to know how to reference group author blogs, because every contributor has much that could be mentioned, and I'm a huge fan of the team at First Offenders... but Jeff Shelby's post, You, My Friend, Are A Huge Jackass is a classic.

Another author who doesn't blog nearly enough is Russel D. McLean. You never know what he'll post about, which is part of what keeps it interesting.

Cotton Candy

I was drawn into the blogging world by the evil Stuart MacBride (who claims he's just misunderstood) and have always loved his blog. Nobody whines... er, rants... like Stuart, and to prove the point, I must offer a link to another blog post worthy of that museum. Without Thinking requires a full spurt alert. Don't drink while reading. Simply one of the funniest blog rants ever.

Food Court

Some sites provide regular reviews, insightful commentary and posts relevant to what's happening within the genre and beyond, and I do like to keep tabs on them. Some of my most trusted review bloggers and commentators are:

Lesa Holstine, who authors Lesa's Book Critiques.

Karen Chisholm maintains the wonderful Australian Crime Fiction site, which also hosts the monthly chat for the great mystery list, 4MA.

Peter Rozovsky is the author of Detectives Beyond Borders, and routinely offers up insightful commentary and thought-provoking posts with tough questions. A must read blog.

Crime Scene Scotland is one of my favourite review sites, and although the additions are sporadic, they're insightful reviews that manage to give you a good introduction to the book without giving anything away.

There are others that could be mentioned such as Shots, The Rap Sheet, Independent Crime, Confessions, etc. They have their fingers on the pulse of the community, and can be found (along with many other superb blogs) via Graham Powell's Crimespot.

You Spin Me Right Round Baby, Right Round (Okay, so it's a musical reference, but they play music at Carnivals, right?)

I wanted to include an assortment of things that wouldn't usually be found at the Carnival. The following is food for thought, the wacky and wild, and general interest stuff worthy of note.*

"I would like to see a few things change in the future. I would like to see less hyperbole and angst about so-called "mainstream" forays into the "ghetto" of genre. I would like to see all writers make a better effort to see the work of their fellows with eyes unfettered by received ideas as conveyed through whatever label has been slapped on a particular book or author. If we wrote fiction the way we talk about genre and mainstream most of the time, we would all be hacks, our prose full of the most crass and belabored cliches. Yet we persist in outdated, dangerous generalizations, and allow them to color our perceptions of reality. We refuse to engage with the individual in front of us, to communicate, and instead create badly-made fictions about them."

Moving right along...

"Homo sapiens is a bizarre literary ape -- one that, outside of working and sleeping, may well spend most of its remaining hours lost in landscapes of make-believe. Across the breadth of human history, across the wide mosaic of world cultures, there has never been a society in which people don't devote great gobs of time to seeing, creating, and hearing fictions -- from folktales to film, from theater to television. Stories represent our biggest and most preciously varied repository of information about human nature. Without a robust study of literature there can be no adequate reckoning of the human condition -- no full understanding of art, culture, psychology, or even of biology. As Binghamton University biologist David Sloan Wilson says, "the natural history of our species" is written in love poems, adventure stories, fables, myths, tales, and novels."

Of course, that post has prompted some responses already.

At One Sentence you get a stripped down version of Post Secrets, where people tell a story in a sentence. Amongst the contributions:

"On Mother's Day, I remember when my mother told me that if she had known about abortion in 1946 I wouldn't be here."

"She often cries while watching him sleep, hands clasped on his chest, reminding her again of his sister's tiny corpse."

An interesting challenge for near-future crime fiction writers from the Freakonomics blog.

And the truly wild quick list:

Oi, Yorick! - The Skinhead Hamlet

Youtube Shakespeare

Photographs from an abandoned police station in Detroit

Victorian era post-mortem photos

Enough to make a grown book buyer cry.

Dickapedia - a Wiki of people who are complete dicks.

And finally, the Sartorialist caught "Mr. Noir" walking down the street and took his picture.

The Real Party...

...will be in Baltimore this October and Ruth Jordan has started a blog where authors have contributed their Bouchercon memories and people talk about the history and importance of Bouchercon. It's well worth checking out, and it's also essential to be in Baltimore this October. If you haven't registered yet, what are you waiting for?

Well, okay, I have to send my form in too, as soon as I can. As it happens, I'm in Maryland at the moment, not working on my own computer, which is part of the reason I cheated with a few of my links. I'm on a different browser, on a PC instead of a Mac and just trying to remember all my passwords. That's why I don't have pictures - I can't download them on this computer. I'm sure that as soon as I press publish, I'll remember something else I had fully intended to link to, but this is still a big Carnival. We've covered a lot of ground, and I hope you've found something new and interesting amongst the links.

From Patti Abbott's blog to Crimerant, Chris Holm's blog to Lyman's, I wanted to talk about all the places I try to drop by at least sporadically, but at some point you have to pack up the tents and pass the torch. It's my pleasure to do so with a nod to another wonderful author and blogger, Martin Edwards. Martin has reviewed for Spinetingler a bit in the past, and is one of the nicest guys you'll meet at a convention. His blog is Do You Write Under Your Own Name - and I think I need to add it to my blog links. I'm so far behind. But he's on the ball, and will be hosting the 17th Carnival from the UK. I can't wait.

* With thanks to Bunny


Lesa said...


Thanks for putting Lesa's Book Critiques in the food court! And, I hope you had a chance to read the review of What Burns Within. I loved it, Sandra. Terrific police procedural and series debut. Good luck with it!

Kerrie said...

What a lovely range of things to investigate Sandra.

Sandra Ruttan said...

Lesa, I know I e-mailed, but thanks again for dropping by!

Kerrie, glad you found this to be an interesting collection. There's a lot of wild stuff on the web, and some of it is pretty interesting.

pattinase (abbott) said...

What a lot of work for someone settling into new digs. I worry about you.

Peter Rozovsky said...

Hmm, no freak show at this carnival? Hmm, you know, I always preferred the games to the rides when I was a lad.
Detectives Beyond Borders
"Because Murder Is More Fun Away From Home"

Eileen said...

So many good places to explore! I think you're a ton of fun too. You have to come to the Surrey conference this year. I must owe you at least two or three drinks.

Peter Rozovsky said...

Did you happen to notice that Peter Guttridge interviewed Ian Rankin at Crimefest this weekend about Rankin's taste in music?
Detectives Beyond Borders
"Because Murder Is More Fun Away From Home"