I’ve been reading blogs, reviews, online articles voraciously this past decade, far more than ever before. Perhaps also because for most of the time I did not have money to subscribe to any newspapers or magazines – and discovered that when I did subscribe, they ended up mostly unread in a kitchen drawer, fit only to peel vegetables on them.
The same fate has also befallen many of the reviews and articles I’ve written over the past 10 years. While they are mostly online, so not even suitable for vegetable chopping, I’ve sadly lost track of quite a few of them. So I thought I’d try to gather here a few of my favourites, in the hope that I manage to convince myself that this past decade has not been quite as wasted in terms of writing seriously (as I know it has).
Finally, I am also including some essays authored by others, which have really helped me understand myself better.
Crime Fiction Lover
It has been my absolute delight and pleasure to be associated for 6 years with the online goldmine of crime-related information and reviewing that is Crime Fiction Lover. I had to take a step back this past year, to focus on my complicated personal life and my own writing, but there are many things published there that I’m still fond of. For starters, the article I wrote about the five books that got me hooked on crime fiction, even though this dates back to 2013 https://crimefictionlover.com/2013/05/marinasofia-the-five-books-that-got-me-hooked-on-crime-fiction/
I finally got to witter on about one of my favourite authors, Shirley Jackson, for a Classics in September feature in 2017 https://crimefictionlover.com/2017/09/cis-we-have-always-lived-in-the-castle/
Another woman writer to rediscover: Margaret Millar https://crimefictionlover.com/2017/09/cis-rediscovering-margaret-millar/
Josephine Tey as an author and a protagonist in crime fiction https://crimefictionlover.com/2014/09/cis-josephine-tey-as-author-and-protagonist/
I’ve always loved those classic stories that have a trace (or more) of crime in them https://crimefictionlover.com/2016/09/cis-10-literary-classics-that-are-also-crime-stories/
A report from the Quais du Polar in Lyon in 2015 – perhaps my favourite of the many years I went there https://crimefictionlover.com/2015/03/live-from-lyon-quais-du-polar-2015-special-report/
And of course a personal tribute to my beloved Maigret series https://crimefictionlover.com/2012/09/cis-revisiting-maigret/
I’m also proud of my explorations of different countries for crime fiction (French and German crime fiction, Latin American, Celtic fringe, unexpected settings, holiday settings) and my Five Women to Watch annual preview of up-and-coming women authors, including foreign ones, which makes it a bit different from the more run of the mill selections. Best of all, I got to interview fabulous writers such as Pierre Lemaitre, Sylvie Granotier, Adrian Magson, Kati Hiekkapelto, Ragnar Jonasson, Michael Stanley, Dolores Redondo and many more.
I regret not doing more reviewing for plucky literary journal Necessary Fiction, but one book that really stood out for me and which I find myself regularly recommending for those trying to understand the siege of Sarajevo is Death in the Museum of Modern Art by Alma Lazarevska.
I’ve also not been as prolific as I’d have liked on the Shiny New Books review site, but my two favourite reviews there were Julian Barnes’ reimagining of the hard choices faced by composer Shostakovich under the Soviet regime, and the immersive experience that was reading Olivia Laing’s The Lonely City.
For nearly two years I worked behind the scenes at a literary journal that I had long admired for its commitment to world literature, Asymptote. I was mainly busy with the Book Club, but I also got to contribute a few articles about my first encounter with Asymptote and how I keep on searching for the best but not definitive translation of Genji Monogatari. This latter doesn’t seem to be available online, but I have the original document and will post it on my blog at some point if anyone is interested.
Articles and essays that have inspired me:
The Crane Wife by CJ Hauser from The Paris Review, July 2019 – about having the courage to ask for kindness and appreciation
On Pandering by Claire Vaye Watkins from Tin House, 2015 – about self-censorship and writing to the (male) canon
Writer, Mother, Both, Neither by Belle Boggs from Lithub, June 2016 – about combining career, creativity and motherhood
Still Writing by Dani Shapiro – this is a book, but I am cheating by linking to a summary of some of its most powerful statements about the impulse for writing from BrainPickings.
Men Explain Things to Me by Rebecca Solnit – the original article came out in 2008 but it was this version that I read in 2012 in Guernica magazine