The King is Dead – Sarah Shankman

In which we’re somewhat lonesome tonight.

A little sick of unsatisfying travelling companions, I followed Native Stranger with a Sarah Shankman (her of I Still Miss my Man but my Aim is getting Better fame) novel I picked up in Fjærland called The King is Dead. It’s a sort of a crime novel, and very entertaining. It reminded me, not only of how much of my reading has concentrated on the British Isles, but how much of what isn’t British is set in either the midwest (Minnesota and such) or in the Pacific north-west (Oregon, Washington, British Columbia). The southern themes of Shankman’s novels feel almost alien at times (what with all the Elvis impersonators, it almost is). The dialect certainly is. I also find myself getting the characters mixed up because of the similarity (to me) of their names, as if they were all called Billy-Sue and Billy-Bob (though, in fact, there wasn’t a single Billy). I hadn’t realised before quite how the regional nature of names actually affects the «feel» of a story. It’s the literal equivalent of «all chinese people look identical» – a fallacy which is true only in cases of unfamiliarity (did that make any sense whatsoever?). Whatever. I want to read more Shankman. I also want to read more «Southern» books, once I get over this Scottish phase. It was a timely reminder of how large (and diverse) the North American continent is. I have been thinking that I ought to read more books not written in English. Evidently, I ought likewise to consider some of those traditions in English literature that I have obviously been ignoring.

So much to read, so little time.

I Still Miss my Man, but my Aim is Getting Better – Sarah Shankman

shankmanIn which we go south.

Just finished Sarah Shankman’s I Still Miss my Man, but my Aim is Getting Better. It has to be one of the best book titles ever, which is a bit of a pity in way because it leaves the poor little book a lot to live up to. And it doesn’t quite manage. That said, it’s highly entertaining. The novel’s set in Nashville, and centres on Shelby, who’s left her good-for-nothing husband to come there to make it big as a songwriter. Take an ex-husband who just doesn’t understand the phrase «it’s over», add at least three jealousy-dramas, a crookster with nothing to loose, a kidnapping, an old star who’s been in hiding for 30 years, rather a lot of Smith & Wessons and kitchen knives and two angels, one good, one bad, who have their separate ideas of how the story would best turn out, and you’ve got yourself a rippin’ good yarn. I can think of worse ways to spend a Sunday afternoon. And now, pretty much inevitably, I’m listening to Patsy Cline and wondering whether I can get hold of These Boots are made for Walking.