A Year in Reading: Carolyn Kellogg

December 13, 2008 | 1 book mentioned

Carolyn Kellogg is a book critic and the lead blogger at the LA Times book blog Jacket Copy. She recently got www.carolynkellogg.com to call her very own.

coverDracula by Bram Stoker. There are Goths and there are Vampire Weekend fanatics, but I’m not among them; I wouldn’t have re-read Dracula if I hadn’t had to for a literature class in graduate school. But wow. Written in 1897, Dracula is a fractured, multifaceted narrative told in journals, letters, diaries and newspaper clippings, from the point of view of four different characters. If I’d turned in such a thing in workshop, I would have been accused of the crime of postmodernism. Anyway. It’s a terrific crime novel that chases the villain across Europe, and Mina Murray is one ballsy Victorian heroine.

coverThe Long Embrace: Raymond Chandler and the Woman he Loved by Judith Freeman. Judith Freeman tries to get to the heart of Raymond Chandler’s relationship with his wife Cissy – she was eighteen years his senior, a fact that was kept secret, even, for some time, from Chandler himself. During her research, Freeman begins to stalk his ghost: she goes from house to house across Southern California, trying to see how the couple’s many moves inflected what Chandler wrote. I did not always agree with her read of Los Angeles and its neighborhoods, but as a work of biography The Long Embrace is more honest than most. Freeman’s obsessions are a frame for her work; she exposes them where more formal biographies keep them under wraps. Yes, she loves reading Raymond Chandler; yes, she is entranced by his marriage; and no, she will never get close enough.

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writes about books and publishing for the Los Angeles Times.

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