BOOK & BLOG
January 1, 2007
Books of the Week: William Marshall's Yellowthread Street series
I ought to start off the new year by recommending a new writer, but today Im thinking about William Marshall, an excellent writer who may be something of an acquired taste. His style with dialogue is simply amazing. Until I started reading his books, maybe fifteen years ago, I didnt know you could write like that and get away with it. Unfortunately, I dont know what Marshalls doing now. There are lots of William Marshalls listed when I Google him, and by the time I got to page 12 trying to discover my William Marshalls current whereabouts, I just pooped out on my search.
Every now and then I run across a book in Marshalls Yellowthread Street series that I havent read. The books are set in Hong Kong before the Communist takeover, in a fictional precinct called Hong Bay, and the four policemen featured in the books are Harry Feiffer, Christopher OYee, Auden, and Spencer. In a society that seems incredibly complex and chaotic to this western reader, the cops try to maintain law and order against forces that sometimes seem almost mystically malign. The magical qualities of Marshalls writing are wonderfully realized. Crimes that seem impossible always have an explanation, the four policemen survive the frightening life they live, and the communist takeover grows inexorably closer.
This week I read Inches, and it was wonderful. Marshall has an antic habit of setting his poor cops into insane situations based on the most mundane of circumstances; in this case, Audens fear of dentists inspires a whole sequence of events, ending with Auden on a catwalk eighteen stories above the street battling off seagulls with a baseball bat.
I had the pleasure of writing Mr. Marshall a fan email a few years ago, and I was absolutely delighted when he answered. I think youll be fascinated if you can track down a book of his for experimental reading, and you may get as hooked as I am.
Again, another probably I ought to write about New Years Resolutions this week, but Im not going to. Theyre futile to make, and only give you a way to measure your failures . . . at least, in my experience. You may be the one person in a hundred who feels pretty sincere when you make a list, and you may be the person who sticks to such a list. More power to you, if so.
I dont have resolutions, but I do have plans. Plans seem much more manageable. I PLAN to enjoy myself more this year. Some people would tell you that would hardly be possible, since I enjoy myself very much almost all the time. Nope, I see room for improvement. For one thing, Im cutting back on my writing schedule. Unless it works out to be comfortable to do so, Im not writing two books a year any more. The pressure was making steam come out my ears, just like a character in a cartoon. Im sure Ill write a Sookie book every year, and all my other projects will just have to be worked in around that.
I plan on editing another anthology, if all the sticks fall in the right pattern. Toni Kelner and I had a great time editing the stories for MANY BLOODY RETURNS, and we have a lot of ideas about other anthologies that might be fun, too. We have compatible editing styles, and Toni is way smarter than I am.
I plan on making sure I say Thank you. So, thanks to all of you who visit my website, follow a thread or two, and buy and read my books. Though Big Mama and Debim have been outstandingly helpful this year (BigMama with the fan club, Debim with the cataloging of book characters), all of you have contributed to my happiness and wellbeing. Lots of people have spent time and energy supplying me with information I use in the books, however wrongly I use it, and I hope I remember each and every one of them on the Acknowledgements page of the appropriate book.
In the Thanks column, I certainly need to mention two of the most important people in my professional world, my agent, Joshua Bilmes of JABberwocky, and my editor, Ginjer Buchanan of Ace. Also, big tip of the hat should go to my long-suffering publicist Tina Anderson. All three of these tough individuals have been on the receiving end of my panicked phone calls, borne the brunt of my absent-mindedness, and prompted me to Do The Right Thing. I owe them a debt of gratitude for their patience. Id better tack on my web maven, Dawn Fratini, who struggles through my incoherent explanations of what I want on the website.
So those are my plans, not my resolutions, for the coming year: enjoy my life, try a little more editing, and remember to say thanks for jobs well done. It doesnt seem like a lot. Maybe this year Ill make it!
© 2009 Charlaine Harris