Anyone with even half an eye on the media can’t have missed that it was the 125th anniversary of Agatha Christie’s birth recently. This piece from the Irish Times which asked crime writers such as Sophie Hannah, Val McDermid, Linwood Barclay and more for their thoughts on her work was particularly interesting. I’m not sure why they asked John Banville to take part as, despite his pseudonymous Benjamin Black crime novels he’s as sneering and patronising as ever. Given that it’s crime fiction that pays his bills I wish he’d show a little respect for crime writers and, most importantly, readers. Enough of him though. My favourite Christie, and I think the one I read first when I was about twelve, is the much-retitled And Then There Were None, soon to be a BBC adaptation. Contrived possibly, but clever too and it keeps you guessing right up to the end.
I so want to explore the High Line in New York, a mile and a half long linear park created along a stretch of disused railway that runs on elevated tracks above the streets of Manhattan’s West Side. I loved this poetic blog post about one visitor’s experience there and this article from New York Magazine about the founding of the park is also fascinating. When we went to San Francisco in the summer I tried to fit in a New York stopover if only so that we could visit the High Line and MOMA but it wasn’t to be. Hopefully in the next few years we’ll manage at least a long weekend there and manage to explore this unique green space.
I love Frank Lloyd Wright’s architecture and I love this house that’s for sale near Chicago. That it’s dropped so much in price as no-one wants to take it on is tragic. I’d even consider living in the USA for that house.
Josephine Tey (real name Elizabeth Mackintosh), author of Miss Pym Disposes, The Franchise Affair and many more, is often grouped with other Golden Age writers such as Dorothy L Sayers and Ngaio Marsh. In fact, she ignored many of the then conventions of detective fiction just as she did in her private life. This Vanity Fair piece is an interesting look at this most enigmatic of writers with insights from Nicola Upson who abandoned her planned Tey biography for a series of novels with the novelist as a central character. If that piques your interest, then this article by Robert McCrum in the Guardian is also worth reading. My favourite Josephine Tey novel is Brat Farrar – a good starting point if you’re new to her work. That’s the Folio Society edition – beautiful and I really must buy a copy at some point.