Mark: “What are we talking about this week?”
Evelyn: [long stare across the table]
Nancy: [passing through at 80 mph] “Books!”
Evelyn: [long stare across the table con’t]
Mark: “Oh . . . we could talk about books, I suppose.”
Evelyn: [blinks, once]
Mark: “Right. Books. I’ll get on that.”
Welcome to Thursday’s edition of the newsletter, everyone, wherein we’ll be talking about . . . wait for it . . . books. Unlike past newsletters where we’ve talked around books, or pretended to talk about books but were really talking about other things, or put up pictures of books to stand in for actually having read any books that week. This newsletter will be different. Trust us.
Evelyn: “You know, sooner or later, they will all realize you’re making things up as you go.”
Mark: “Yes, but I’m a professional, so it’s expected as part of the floor show.”
Given the wealth of new books that have been dropping on us the last few months, we’ve been wondering if the flood will continue unabatedly or if it would actually dimmish slightly. This last week has given us the impression that the flood is slackening, but we’re still a little cautious.
Evelyn: “I’m not sure ‘slackening’ is a word.”
Mark: “There’s a Highlander tie-in novel called Highlander: The Enslackening.”
Evelyn: [after a moment of typing] “No, there isn’t.”
Mark: [leaves the room while she’s checking his work] “What? I can’t hear you from over here, where I am dutifully shelving Westerns.”
Robert McKee’s book on dialogue is out this week, and no, Mark isn’t reading from it while he’s working on the newsletter. Well, he’s reading it now, because it’s McKee, and because dialogue is one of the harder things to pull off in narrative, and McKee’s previous book, Story
, is only, like, the singularly most read book on screenplay writing. And based on the last twenty minutes of Mark’s life that has been lost to thumbing through the pages of Dialogue
, it would appear that McKee has distilled thirty years of teaching about writing into a couple hundred captivating pages. Highly rarified and recently decanted stuff, my dears. In fact, you could use this book to punch up your conversational skills around the office. No more of that dispassionate, passive mumbly mumbly. Learn from the best how to speak coherently, incisively, and with the passionate power of a character with a well-rendered narrative arc. No more are you idly waiting for the Happy Hour gatherings on Friday! With the power of Dialogue
, you can chart your own course, create your own after-hours gathering for you and your co-workers. They can flock to your table, and dote upon your masterfully delivered words of scintillating wisdom.
Evelyn: “Don’t you have a novel to write?”
Mark: “I know you put our favorite customer up to bugging me about writing the second book in the series.”
Evelyn: “I have no idea what you’re talking about.”
On the table next to the register (where you can find McKee’s book), we’ve got a few reading journals—tiny books to help you keep track of what you’ve reading, what you want to read, and what everyone else is telling you to read. We’ve been making lots of lists of late, and these little reading journals are excellent ways to keep up on our books. We’ve also got Amy Whitaker’s Art Thinking
on this table too. In it, Whitaker talks about how to find space for being creative in a world that is inordinately filled with bosses, budgets, and blowhards. Whitaker notes that many times the act of creation requires you to invent Point B before you can go from Point A to Point B, and gives you lots of useful tools and thoughts about how to make stuff up.
Evelyn: “I see what you’re doing there.”
Mark: “What? The book was on the table behind me. I’m not posing an argument for any sort of personal methodology.”
Evelyn: “Are we back to ordering books that you want to take home?”
Mark: “Were we ever not?”
Also on the list of
Books That Mark Should Buy This Week
new books that have come out recently, we would like to direct your attention to Wensley Clarkson’s Sexy Beasts
, the inside story of the Hatton Garden Heist, which has been called the largest burglary in English legal history. Clarkson is one of the UK’s top true crime writers, and the heist, which took place last April, has captivated Britain since the thieves wandered off with £200 million in cash and prizes.
Evelyn: “Cash and prizes?”
Mark: “Bling and bombshells.”
Evelyn: “You really do need to go write that book, don’t you?”
And speaking of two hundred million or so, Paula Hawkins’s The Girl on the Train
which seems to have sold that many copies in hardback over the last year, is now out in paperback. And Jeff & Ann VanderMeer have produced The Big Book of Science Fiction
, which feels like it is two hundred million pages long, but it’s actually only about twelve hundred pages or so. Recently, Nancy asked Ken and Mark to provide her with some suggestions for introductory reading in science fiction and fantasy, and the lads scratched their heads and came up with some lists, but really, they should have just waited for this book to come out.