Good Sunday morning bookies! Stand by for news.

A very grateful shout-out to the best-selling children’s author who wrote me a nice email over my views of promoting children’s reading. If he grants permission I will reprint his email here. It shows the power of the internet that my work can come to the attention of such a well-known author and that he would find value there.

*** Good grief. We all know that forgery is a problem in the book industry, especially when dealing with uber-expensive books, but greed and stupidity only go so far in explaining how a Reading, PA, ebay seller got away with peddling books with forged signatures for years. As the article explains, he had stamps made from authentic signatures. STAMPS! Even your friendly neighborhood booksellers has a lighted high-magnification tool for examining signatures that he did not get in person, and that’s all it would take to spot a stamped signature, a cursory look, the barest bit of due diligence.

Forgeries for Dummies

*** Here is today’s World War II book review. I know, it does seem that way, doesn’t it? For history buffs I’m sure this is great. For those who don’t read history, not so much. Well, look at it this way, you’re doing research for that next gift you need to buy for a history lover.

Another end of World War II book, and there seems to be a new emphasis on the Allied attitude toward the liberated and conquered people, each with its own agenda. The pro-German writers all dwell on how badly the German population was treated, Nazi or not, and they do have a point. The greatest diaspora in European history was the driving of ethnic Germans from their homelands outside Germany in post-war Europe. On the other hand, anti-German writers take a different tack and emphasize collective guilt. Today’s writer of the moment, William Hitchcock, appears to be of the opinion that the French and the Dutch are the aggrieved parties. What is never quite pointed out is that the real aggrieved party is the one whose country wasn’t invaded, but showed up to bail everybody out of the predicament they caused, namely, America.

Liberation: The Bitter Road to Freedom

*** This past Monday saw the 200th birthday celebration of a genius, Edgar Allan Poe. When you consider what a deeply trouble man he was it’s incredible what he achieved in such a short span of life. Your friendly neighborhood bookseller has been to the University of Virgina and seen his room there, very small, dark, unheated except for the fireplace…to create whole new genres of prose (I am one who credits Poe with having invented the modern detective story) under conditions that modern Man considers primitive, is an amazing accomplishment. Seriously, think about just what a talent this man was.

One of the newer competitions among middle schools these days is Forensics. No, not cutting up corpses, that’s forensic pathology. I’m talking about this:

The American Forensic Association

BBG has first hand knowledge of this organization and its wonderful and wondrous activities. Essentially, it’s a competition between schools based on public speaking, with categories such as Poetry, Prose, Extemporaneous, Humorous and many others. It promotes and develops public speaking ability among children when they are still quite young and, even if they never win a competition, when they are grown they have no fear of speaking before an audience because they have been trained to do so.

Okay, with the commercial out of the way, what does this have to do with Poe? His work is probably chosen more often for use in Forensics competitions than any other writer. the Tell-Tale Heart I have seen performed by at least five poeple and, when done well, is still a winner. so, 200 years on, Poe is still not only relevant, but downright influential.

Poe turns 200, but doesn’t look a day over 150

*** Ah, Florence, Italy. Home of the Uffizi Gallery, David, Brunelleschi’s Dome, gypsies begging money from you as you stand in line to climb the steps to the top of that dome, a really cool bookstore across the street from the Uffizi, the Pitti Palace…well, okay, you get the idea. Florence is the home of the Renaissance and, one imagines, embodies the beauty Man can produce. One forgets that Florence is also home to the Monster of Florence, a serial killer in the mold a Jack the Ripper/Hannibal Lechter fusion, a pitiless murderer who has never been caught or identified. What’s worse, he’s current.

As you would expect there have been numerous books, documentaries, etc., speculating on who is the killer. A man was convicted of the crimes only to have his conviction overturned on appeal. People have been threatened with arrest for their work covering this subject, a notion foreign to Americans, and best-selling crime novelist Douglas Preston has been warned to leave Italy because of his new book. Here’s a review:

The Monster of Florence

*** Those who know me know that Dennis Lehane’s Shutter Island is near the top of my all-time ‘I Hated It’ List. Not for the same reason as, say, The Da Vinci Code Or The Third Secret, both of which were dreadful books featuring ridiculous ‘research’, third-grade level writing and a real passion for Catholic-bashing. No, Shutter Island was beautifully written and highly original. Lehane is the real deal, even if I don’t care for his work. In this I am, and should be, in the vast minority. Good. I have met Lehane twice and I really, really like the guy. Very polite, very smart, very dedicated. I just don’t like his work.

Anyway, that probably says more about me than about him, so let’s post this interview for those who are in the vast majority and love his stuff. And I say, good. I hope he gets even richer than he already is.

Lehane on the line

>>> What I’m reading: “The Six Sacred Stones” by Matthew Reilly.