And the Edgar goes to…

Do you remember the scene in Fantasia where Mickey Mouse is the Sorcerer’s Apprentice and those brooms keep coming and coming with the pails of water?  That is sort of how I feel these days, with the only difference that the books keep coming . . .

I am on the Edgar Committee for Best Novel.  For those unacquainted with the Edgar, it is the “Oscar” given to mystery writers.  This is the fourth Edgar Committee I have served on.  The others (best short story, best true crime, best original paperback) didn’t seem that arduous.  Since the start of 2013, I have felt guilty if I wasn’t reading in my spare time.  On the few occasions my family has gone on getaways, I have taken a pile of books with me.

Luckily for me, I don’t have to read all of the 500+ books that will likely be sent my way (more than 300 have already been sent).  But reading the hundred books or so assigned to me is more than daunting.

I am doing my best to be a diligent judge.  I try to read most books in their entirety even though there have been some where I have given up halfway through (knowing nothing can salvage the book to make it a contender in my judgment).  I try to put myself in the author’s shoes.  I would hope in the past that other judges have read my books with open minds.  There is one thing I know for sure:  No author ever set out to write a bad book.

The deluge of novels is a daily reminder of how many good books (and not so good) get published every year, and how difficult it is for a work to stand out.

I have always loved to read, but when it comes to all this reading the bloom is definitely off the rose.  Instead of reading for pleasure, I am forced to read as a critic, and also forced to do it in an expeditious manner.

I better stop writing now.  There are ten books waiting in my to-be-read pile.


Alan Russell 7/1/2013