Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Book: The Sailcloth Shroud, by Charles Williams (1960)

Every new Mystery*File changes my reading habits. Thanks to issue #47, I’ve delved into the work of P. M. Hubbard. Gothics aren’t my usual cup of tea, but Hubbard achieved remarkable effects through primarily writing about landscape. 1971’s THE DANCING MAN is like a Hammer horror movie on the page.

And Bill Crider’s Gold Medal Corner column had me eager to read Williams’ work. I couldn’t track down any of the paperbacks Bill singled out for praise, but I did find one of the sailing novels that, according to Bill, some people regard as Williams’ best. (Another of these books was the basis for the early Nicole Kidman movie DEAD CALM.)

SHROUD did not disappoint. A sailor loses one member of his crew at sea and the other soon after they reach port. Naturally, the two deaths are connected. It’s a lean, economical story that only has me more determined to find Williams’ RIVER GIRL.

In the last few years I’ve read several other nautical thrillers by authors like Justin Scott. Yet I’ve never been sailing. Makes me wonder if secretly my life, my love and my lady is the sea.

Miscellaneous: White Smoke

So Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger is Pope Benedict XVI. He’s a hardline conservative whose views have been described by one theologian as “medieval, anti-Reformation, (and) anti-modern.” Yet I have positive feelings about him because Jason Robards played a character with the same name (variant spelling) in QUICK CHANGE, one of the great lost comedies of the 1990s.

All those years as an altar boy were for naught. It turns out that I bow my head in the church of popular culture.

DVD: End of the World (1979)

Hard to believe I had good memories about this Christopher Lee film dating back to when I saw it on a double bill with LASERBLAST. Shows to go you: all you need to impress a ten year old is a killer opening scene and a creepy ending.