Right now I'm reading both the original text of The Stand by Stephen King, and Drawing Blood (preferred title Birdland) by Poppy Z. Brite. It's the Brite writing that to me most closely echoes Stephen King, in fact; Brite's a huge fan of his. I'm more a fan of docbrite's writing this decade, which is less flowery and more straightforward, especially the Rickey and G-Man stories; but I'm much preferring Drawing Blood over Doc's first novel Lost Souls, as most vampire stories for some reason don't do much for me. (The one bit from Lost Souls that stayed with me was a character wondering what the heck happens to all of the saliva one swallows: does it just collect undigested in the stomach? docbrite likes thinking about food and digestion, as do I.)
Other books I've finished lately:
* Serenity: The Official Visual Companion, with discussion, notes, and the Serenity script by Joss Whedon. I've been in a Whedonverse mood. (Everything I've borrowed in the last few weeks from the library and have on hold there is Whedon-related.)
* Meg, by Steve Alten: Sometimes I just want to read a straightforward page-turner. (Huh. I first typed that "page-turned.") This I read almost entirely in one day. Great ridiculous idea and set-up: what if the Megalodon, the largest shark that ever existed, still existed? What if it had adapted to living in the deep trenches several miles down? And how could it be drawn up and away from the trenches to WREAK CHEWY-BITE-Y HAVOC ALL OVER THE PACIFIC OH MY GOD? It's slightly like Lake Placid with a giant shark (and later, sharks, plural) instead of a giant crocodile, and yep, I liked Lake Placid in all its decapitated-heads-hitting-Bridget-Fonda silliness. This I liked, too. (Yay! Guam was a location! I have family there.)
* Naked in Death, by Nora Roberts writing as J.D. Robb: Speaking of page-turners... Yep, I enjoyed this. I also like the reason I sought it out. Nora Roberts is a big name in romance novels, and earlier this year a controversy erupted over fellow romance novelist Cassie Edwards being accused of plagiarism. Roberts weighed in on it (basically saying Yep, looks like she plagiarized) and caught flack for saying that, even after it came out that yep, Edwards had plagiarized. She'd lifted verbatim not only from several novels, she'd also, bizarrely, stolen descriptions of the lives and mating habits of a certain kind of endangered ferret. As written about in a science article. (That evidence came out first. Edwards's reaction was basically Oh. I didn't know that was plagiarism. Says the author of over 50 books. The whole debacle is summarized over several pages here.) The rather surprised and somewhat bemused author of that science piece wrote a response column for Newsweek's website saying It's all well and good that the plagiarism was caught, but what about the ferrets? I wrote that because people are trying to help this species. Nora Roberts heard and replied that she'd challenge her readers to donate money to the cause of helping these ferrets, and she'd match what they raised. This netted over $5,000 for that cause. That was the moment Nora Roberts went from "sensible" to "above and beyond in a way that rocks!," and I wanted to support that above-and-beyond spirit.
In my begin-at-the-beginning tendency, I sought out and bought Naked in Death, the first book in her "romantic suspense" series. It's set in the mid-21st century, with subtle changes to the U.S. we know, and follows the work and the love life of New York Police and Security Department cop Eve Dallas. She investigates what turns out to be an old-school murder that looks like the start of a serial killing spree targeting prostitutes.
The book didn't convert me to mysteries or the "romantic suspense" genre, but it was entertaining. Mystery stories (to me) are often these stripped-down plot machines, and with a series like this you should be attracted to the flair of the main character, and Eve Dallas is a sympathetic, driven protagonist.
(It's like what I like in TV cop dramas. The more the series is about the investigators than about the investigated, the more likely I'm to watch. The multiple Law and Order series don't do much for me because they're weighted so heavily towards the mechanices of investigation, with the details of the cop characters coming out in dribs and drabs. (I'd probably like Criminal Intent, as it's more strongly about the cops and their eccentricities, and I recognize the greatness of Vincent D'Onofrio.) I liked NYPD Blue more, and feel Dennis Franz's Andy Sipowicz is a classic TV character. My favorite is still Homicide: Life on the Street, which had FLAIR, yo; jumpy and slightly off-putting editing, some very human and very flawed main characters, and music that messed with you, whether it was Douglas Cuomo's sawing-away-at-your-nerves small-ensemble music or the strangely apropos choices of pop songs.
(This formula for cop shows doesn't always work for me; I've never gotten into the various CSIs for some reason, even though they lean towards the eccentric-investigators side of the equation...)
Without giving too much away, I like that a certain character in Naked in Death you start to think might be a bad guy turns out to be a good guy, as having that plot twist might have been too much of a "let's dump on Eve Dallas" revelation. And it means Eve's more likely to keep getting laid. (Okay, maybe I've revealed too much.) I'll pass the book along to my reading partner Alicia, see if she likes it. (She was impressed with the "Nora Roberts and the ferrets" story, too. Hey, Nora and the Ferrets sounds like an old doo-wop band or something...)