One of the unexpected bonuses of writing The Panic Virus was working with Kevin Hartnett, an incredibly talented writer who helped me with just about every facet of my book. For a couple of years now, Kevin has been working with the online books/arts/culture/etc magazine The Millions; this year, he asked me to contribute one of the site’s “Year in Reading” features.
My piece ran today — it’s a (very) brief essay about my love for Richard Stark’s Parker novels and Rex Stout’s Nero Wolfe books*. (For a wonderful introduction to Stark, check out The Bad Plus pianist Ethan Iverson’s obit/essay on Donald Westlake. Stark was one of Westlake’s many pseudonyms.) There are lots of other great “Year in Reading” essays as well, ranging from Joanna Smith Rakoff to the booming-voiced Richard Nash to The Hours author Michael Cunningham to Allegra Goodman, whose remarkable book Intuition was another one of my favorite reads of ’10.
* The Boston Globe‘s brilliant Hiawatha Bray pointed out that I’d initially given Wolfe authorship over his creator. (Thanks, Hiawatha.) That also gets to several things I should have noted earlier: My policy will be to always indicate where I have made corrections to initial posts; if I’m lucky — and this indicates that I will be — I’ll have readers that are many times smarter than I am; I’ll depend on said readers to let me know when I’ve screwed up; and the comments policy is still a work in progress. Right now, I need to approve all comments. My intention is not to limit debate or discussion, but to keep things civil…and to limit spam pitches for bodily enhancements and illegal pharmaceuticals. I’ll write more about this as it evolves.