Hemingway House and the Hemingway cats were just one of the book highlights of my 2.5 day trip Key West. The other was a trip to Books & Books, a non-profit bookshop run by the only living author I turn fan-girl over. Judy Blume. It is not hyperbole or exaggeration of any kind to say this woman was the single biggest influence in my childhood and pre-teen years. So, no WAY was I going to miss visiting her bookstore, even if odds of her being there were slim.
She was there.
She was lovely. I was a blithering idiot, of course. What I could manage to say was nothing, I"m sure, that she hasn't heard a million times over the years, and I'm kicking myself for not having enough wits about me to tell her what I really appreciated about her books (that all her characters had agency and didn't need adults or friends to tell them what was right or wrong), but she was wonderful, kind and patient nevertheless. She was preparing for an extended trip and was in a meeting when I arrived, but she paused the meeting to come out and sign my books (because of COURSE I bought some of her books), and chat with me for a few minutes.
Aside from her books, and her very presence, Books & Books is a fabulous bookshop. I went in with ZERO intention of looking at books beyond Judy Blume's because, as I think you all know, I had already managed to accumulate a fair number of books by this time. (*cough*four boxes*cough*) But as I was making my way to the counter, I found the newest of the Prehistorica pop-up books, Sharks And Other Sea Monsters, and when the woman behind the counter saw me squee'ing over that one, she showed me the wonder of Ocean: A Photicular Book, which has the best holographic images I've ever seen - they honestly look like little movies on the page. I was entranced. It was one of a series and it was killing me to just choose one.
MT had stopped at a cigar shop before meeting me at the bookstore, arriving as I was just starting to chat with JB, and in those few minutes he managed to find 3 more books to add to the pile (two are future xmas gifts) and would have added 2 others had I not already started checking out. If this had been the first stop on our holiday instead of the last, the damage we'd have done to their inventory and our finances would have been impressive. There were just too many interesting books screaming for attention.
So here's my plug: if you ever find yourself in Key West, absolutely go to Books and Books - whether you go to fan girl(boy) over Judy Blume or not, the inventory is sure to appeal to any and all book lovers. Bring a big bag.
...removing quotation marks around direct speech is not innovative or doing something daring with form. It's annoying and discourteous to the reader.
I know that makes me sound like the grammar police but punctuation serves a purpose.
You'll be reminded of its purpose when you read a novel like this that ostentatiously leaves out quotation marks. Your reading slows down. You have to work harder to know not just who is speaking but whether anyone is speaking.
This is the writing equivalent of Brexit: I can see what it destroys but I don't see any benefits or any compelling reason to do it.
Rant over. I'll go back to the book now. Which is quite good by the way.
In London at dead of night, George Smiley, sometime acting Chief of the Circus (aka the British Secret Service), is summoned from his lonely bed by news of the murder of an ex-agent. Lured back to active service, Smiley skillfully maneuvers his people -- the no-men of no-man's land -- into crisscrossing Paris, London, Germany, and Switzerland as he prepares for his own final, inevitable duel on the Berlin border with his Soviet counterpart and archenemy, Karla.
***2018 Summer of Spies***
In the spy genre, if James Bond is a boxing match, then George Smiley is a chess game. Lots of planning ahead, knowing your opponent, and biding your time to make the right move. Smiley and Karla match wits again, but George has a new advantage—Karla can no longer manipulate him via his wife.
Fans of fist fights and gun battles may find this boring. People like myself, who have spent many years researching and working within libraries and archives, will find ourselves mesmerized as Smiley reads files and interviews other ex-employees of the intelligence services in order to build the perfect mousetrap.
So I took an early lunch, because three of the stooges from my coffee time debacle had chosen to have a long, loud training session at the work station just behind mine. And what happens? Madame Speech Impediment shows up and sits close to me. She is then joined by Ms. Slyly Malicious and Miss Self-Righteous Gossipy-Pants. And they proceed to have a loud conversation. Never-ending.
I cannot get out of here fast enough! 2.5 hours until I can escape. I usually don't take an afternoon coffee break, but you can bet I will today and I'm going to go out & sit in my car.
Signed, Ms. Cranky-Pants.