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Achill-Stonehouses1I hope you all had an enjoyable long weekend; we had a lovely Thanksgiving dinner with friends, saw two movies (Moonlight–wonderful; Allied–eh) and I fairly succesfully avoided thinking about work until Sunday afternoon when I began cranking on the editorial whose completion I am here prolonging as I have a dawdle with you.

As promised, I mostly read. All Quiet on the Western Front (for the editorial, because it’s Donald Trump’s favorite book, or at least the only one he can remember finishing) but, via the new Kindle I got for my birthday, also finishing up some odds and ends of novels (King’s 11/22/63, of which I had read two-thirds via audio but, jeez, enough already) and biography (you might not care that Dutch hussy Elly Ameling was a real bitch to Renée Fleming but I live for that stuff). But mostly I was immersed in Tana French’s Dublin Murder Squad series. finishing The Trespasser and then dipping back into the first one, In the Woods, because my Facebook friends told me I needed to remember it in reading The Likeness, which I’m in the middle of now. What’s really great about French is the way she consistently makes exposition do at least two things at once, giving us information we need but also serving to develop character or nudge the story forward at the same time.

I wanted to share a particular bit of that because it resonates with our current crusade for #ownvoices, a laudable trend to be sure but not without limitations. Learning that the as-yet-unidentified victim took particular interest in the derelict cottage where her body was found, here’s our heroine Cassie hypothesizing that she was foreign:

“Definitely not Irish, then, or at least not brought up here. Famine cottages are all over the countryside, we barely even see them anymore. It’s only tourists–and mostly tourists from newer countries, America, Australia–who look at them long enough to feel their weight.”

I remember those cottages in Cork, abandoned to slowly fall down with nary a plaque to commemorate them. And I also remember escorting a group of Japanese publishers around Chicago and noticing them noticing every damned squirrel. Outsiders, even tourists, can make us see ourselves, too.


Roger Sutton About Roger Sutton

Roger Sutton has been the editor in chief of The Horn Book, Inc, since 1996. He was previously editor of The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books and a children's and young adult librarian. He received his M.A. in library science from the University of Chicago in 1982 and a B.A. from Pitzer College in 1978. Follow him on Twitter: @RogerReads.



  1. Thom Barthelmess says:

    Elly Ameling. What a talent. I don’t care if she’s bitchy.

  2. Roger Sutton Roger Sutton says:

    That’s how i feel about Kathy Battle.

  3. I’m not sure that people advocating for more of their #ownvoices in publishing are exactly lacking for opportunities to see themselves through others’ eyes.

    (With credit to Corinne Duyvis for “ownvoices”)

  4. Thom Barthelmess says:

    And Janet Baker. Marilyn Horne, however, is supposed to be lovely.

  5. Roger Sutton Roger Sutton says:

    Marilyn Horne once apologized to me for accidentally draping me in her mink. So, yeah.

  6. More opera gossip! I was once in the theatre when an audience member asked Marilyn Horne why opera singers were so often fat. She answered with the utmost serenity, saying that she thought singers were apt to be sensuous people, and that sensuous people enjoyed their food. Then she went on to add that opera singers often encountered rudeness and they needed the extra fat to shield their nerve endings. One classy lady! (I agree with Thom; nobody sings the Exultant Jubilate with the speed and ease and joy of Elly Ameling.)

    Let’s jettison the children’s books and talk about opera all day!

  7. Roger Sutton Roger Sutton says:

    Here’s Elly’s:

    Here’s Kathy’s:

    I think Kathy’s is faster. And prettier. DROPS MIC

  8. I might agree with you, based on the two YouTubes you cite. Probably Kathy is faster. And her voice is intrinsically more beautiful than Elly’s. But the right Elly You-Tube is . To me, it’s more inflected, more interesting, and more joyful than Kathleen’s, which is more all of a piece.

  9. Roger Sutton Roger Sutton says:

    My friend Ruth says that Kathy reminds her of the Miss Perfect soprano in the church choir who ALWAYS got “O Holy Night” for the Christmas Eve service.

  10. Roger Sutton Roger Sutton says:

    P.S. Laura, have you read Horne’s autobiography? It’s tons of fun and she does not hold back: “the best way to learn a foreign language is in bed [with Nicola Zaccaria].”

  11. Katie Bircher Katie Bircher says:

    I haven’t listened to ALL of the Tana French audiobooks, but I have heard The Secret Place (several times) and The Trespasser, and am listening to In the Woods right now. They are really well done. As are the Gillian Flynn books, if you’re into those.

  12. Roger Sutton Roger Sutton says:

    I’ve read the second and third Gillian Flynns and will get the first for Christmas reading! But where I used to be a devoted audiobook listener I find I can’t read that way anymore, alas.

  13. Katie Bircher Katie Bircher says:

    I really only listen to books I’ve read with my eyeballs. Often many, many times. I find it makes for a much more relaxing experience.

  14. Benji Martin says:


    What happened with your Harry Potter readthrough? I’ve been eagerly anticipating your reaction.

  15. Roger Sutton Roger Sutton says:

    i TRIED, Benji 9 but got too bored to continue about halfway through the second audiobook (which is just where I grew impatient the first/last time I read it.

  16. Off to order a copy of Marilyn Horne’s autobiography…..Thank you for the suggestion!

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