Retro Reading: Murder Ink, by Dylis Wynn

Murder Ink
Dylis Wynn

Originally published in 1977, Murder Ink is subtitled “The mystery lover’s companion,” and that description is absolutely adequate, because this book is a collection of essays, reviews, trivia and tidbits all about mystery fiction. Gems include an ad-flyer for the perfect Gothic nightgown, a discussion of pen names, and even one author’s fantasy of dining with Nero Wolfe.

My experience with Murder Ink goes back to 1984. My stepfather picked up a copy on a discount table, and it quickly became mine. After all, I’m constantly reading, and I love mysteries.

Ms. Wynn compiled a revised version of Murder Ink in 1994, but I don’t have a copy of it (yet). She also released a volume called Murderess Ink that focused on women in mysteries, which I’ve read, but don’t own.

Even though the original Murder Ink is pretty dated now, I still love it, and I find myself responding to different selections at different times. For example, a recent game of CLUE made me remember the poem in Murder Ink all about the game.

RetroReading: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

In preparation for seeing the movie tonight, I re-read Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows earlier this week. Yes, I know the movie is only half the story. Yes, I know the movies never have everything the books do, but even so, I felt it important to refresh my memory of the story.

I noticed a few details in this reading that I don’t remember reading when I first read the book the day it was released, and it was nice to re-visit the original version of the characters, but I’m also left wondering if Harry stayed small-ish in the books because Dan Radcliffe is not particularly tall.

As the daughter of a fashion designer, one thing I’m intrigued by is what Hermione’s beaded bag will look like. I mean, I know there are custom drawstring bags that have beadwork, but I also know that most beaded bags are tiny little clutch purses. I think my mother has one, I know my grandmother had a couple that I used to play with.

Mostly though, I’m looking forward to the experience of seeing a fun movie in an opening night crowd.

Retro-reading: Warped Factors by Walter Koenig

Warped Factors

Warped Factors
by Walter Koenig

There are some celebrity autobiographies that make you kind of want to bitch-slap the authors. There are some celebrity autobiographies that make you think you should be curled up in a library with a crackling fire, smoking endless tatuaje cigars. Then there are the celebrity autobiographies that perfectly balance the behind-the-scenes, name-dropping dish we all claim to hate, but secretly crave, with the relatively candid story of a person’s life that makes them seem like a real person.

Walter Koenig’s autobiography is one of the latter kind.

I first read it several years ago when it came out, but when I was up in the Word Lounge a few weeks ago, looking for something entirely different, it caught my attention, possibly because I’d just re-read a Star Trek novel featuring the character he played. I sat down on my old blue couch to read just a few pages, and found myself, hours later, reading the last of it via booklight in bed, while my husband snored blissfully beside me.

As autobiographies go, this one, Warped Factors is free of major scandal. Instead, it’s a wry, sometimes self-deprecating glimpse into the life of a man who has a far larger body of work than most of us probably realize, and while there are some moments of bitterness in regard to his career, they’re not without provocation.

Reviewing an autobiography feels sort of like judging an actual person, which is silly, because it’s still just a glimpse. A peek.

But as glimpses and peeks go, especially if you’re any kind of classic Star Trek fan, Warped Factors is pretty good reading.