Category Archives: Literature

Blue Ice – the new Techno-thriller by Mark N. Cahill

26 years in the making…I finally got the proof copy of my novel, Blue Ice.

It’s true – I started writing it, and in fact, most of the first chapter remains from 1986, when I began writing it in Manomet.  From the jacket copy:

I started writing Blue Ice in 1986, on a cold windy night in the house I lived in on the beach in Manomet, MA, using an IBM PCjr who’s only storage was a 5 1/2″ floppy drive. The first few pages were written that night, and remain pretty much as I wrote them then. I pecked at the book on and off for several years, until I finally got the resolve in 1997 and sat down to finish the job.

I spent some time during 1997 sending out copies to publishers, and twice came very close, making two separate publication lists for 1998, but in each case I was bumped for an established writer rather late in the game. Prior to starting work on my next book, I vowed that I would have to publish the first one. So here it is.

There’s still a bit of a way to go.  I expect that October 15 as a release date is wishful thinking.  Especially since I haven’t begun to do the final proofread. The good news for you is you now know what you’ll be giving everyone on your Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanza/Festivus list.

You can find out more about the book at BlueIceBook.com (that site in and of itself is a story, but I will tell that story in a later post).

Back to the Future – The Bestseller Roach Motel

I was listening to the New York Times Book Review Podcast the other morning and co-host Jennifer Schuessler made an astounding comment.  She looked at the best seller list today, and then looked back 16 years ago to when James Patterson released his first Alex Cross novel, Along Came a Spider, and found the list contained virtually the same authors.  From her article:

The list was equally brand-name-heavy back in 1993, when Patterson’s first Alex Cross novel, “Along Came a Spider,” made its debut. And most of those brands are still selling. Of the top 10 books on the fiction list published Jan. 31, 1993, eight were by authors who have had best sellers in the past year. (Robert James Waller and Terry McMillan, where are you?) Here are the first 10 books from that week:

1) “The Bridges of Madison County,” by Robert James Waller.
2) “Dragon Tears,” by Dean Koontz.
3) “Degree of Guilt,” by Richard North Patterson.
4) “Close Combat,” by W. E. B. Griffin.
5) “Devil’s Waltz,” by Jonathan Kellerman.
6) “Dolores Claiborne,” by Stephen King.
7) “The Pelican Brief,” by John Grisham.
8) “Terminal,” by Robin Cook.
9) “Along Came a Spider,” by James Patterson.
10) “Waiting to Exhale,” by Terry McMillan.

The same writers…in fact as late as 2007 we saw entries from Robert Ludlum, even though he passed away in early 2001.  What does it say about the book buying public that we’re so willing to buy the same formulaic stories over and over.

Case in point, Dan Brown.  Fantastical, improbable stories, with little character development, no eye for detail and devoid of any meaningful description.  The stuff your creative writing 101 professor would have refused to accept as unworthy for comment.

Your mission today: throw away the best seller list, find an independent book store and inside, find a new writer and actually read something new and different.  We’ll all be better off for it.

Rabbit Runs No More – RIP John Updike

I was first introduced to John Updike at the University of Vermont by one of my two favorite professors, Dr. Allen G. Shepherd.  From there I developed a long term affair with Updike’s works.  Alas, there will be no more…

From the New York Times:

John Updike, the kaleidoscopically gifted writer whose quartet of Rabbit Angstrom novels highlighted so vast and protean a body of fiction, verse, essays and criticism as to earn him comparisons with Henry James and Edmund Wilson among American men of letters, died today at a hospice outside Boston. He was 76 and lived in Beverley Farms, Mass.

The cause was cancer, according to a statement by Alfred A. Knopf, his publisher.

Over the years, I’ve come to appreciate his tales even more, and unfortunately, to  identify more and more with his most famous character, Harry (Rabbit) Angstrom.  Most literature seems to fade as the years pass, while Updikes work continues to grow in nuance for me.

For his family and friends, my most heartfelt condolences.  For the rest of us, I suggest we pick up a copy of Rabbit Run or The Centaur (as I recall, Dr. Shepherd’s favorite…) and read.  Then, when done, pass it one.  Literature like that is, to our detriment, not written anymore.