Wednesday 7 March 2018

Sunburn by Laura Lippman @LauraMLippman #BlogTour @FaberBooks #MyLifeInBooks @portassoph

What kind of woman walks out on her family? Gregg knows. The kind of woman he picked up in a bar three years ago precisely because she had that kind of wildcat energy.
And now she's vanished - at least from the life that he and his kid will live. We'll follow her, to a new town, a new job, and a new friend, who thinks he has her figured.
So who is this woman who calls herself Polly? How many times has she disappeared before? And who are the shadowy figures so interested in her whereabouts?
Laura Lippman's brilliant new novel - Anne Tyler's Ladder of Years as if written by James M. Cain - will ensnare you in the life of one of crime fiction's most unforgettable heroines.

Sunburn by Laura Lippman was published by Faber Books in February 2018. I'm delighted to welcome Laura Lippman here to Random Things today. She's talking about the books that are special to her in My Life In Books.

My Life In Books - Laura Lippman

As a child, I was looking for two things in books -- role models and smut. I doted on a Dr. Seuss book, Happy Birthday to You!, because there was one illustration where you could see the rear view of a naked boy (he had just taken a shower). For a 4-year-old, this was hot stuff.

The first role model was Betsy Ray, a girl growing up in the American Midwest in the early 20th century. Maud Hart Lovelace's so-called Betsy-Tacy books -- Tacy is her best friend -- start when the girls are six, follow them into high school and then into their 20s. The one constant is that Betsy wants to write and publish stories, as did I. (I published my first "book" at the age of five, hitting random keys on my father's typewriters and claiming it was "caveman" language.) By accident, I started the Betsy-Tacy series in the middle, with Besty and Tacy Go Downtown. Betsy's parents decide she should visit their town's new library because she's been reading the tacky "sensation" novels beloved by their hired girl. So Betsy, like me, was on the prowl for smut.

As a teenager, I continue my quest for dirty books. I read the likely suspects -- Peyton Place, Philip Roth -- and then I stumbled on the novel Lolita. It was so over my head that I couldn't even find the dirty parts. I read it again. And again. It became my favorite novel, to the point where my "annotated" edition fell apart a few years ago.

My sister, perhaps resigned to the fact that her younger sister was a complete degenerate, gave me a set of six James M. Cain novels when I was in my 20s. Cain was one of the first crime writers to be taken seriously as a literary writer, although Raymond Chandler privately complained that he was like a little boy, writing dirty words on a fence for his own enjoyment. That's my kind of writer! Mildred Pierce, his least violent book, is my personal favorite. As Cain himself once observed, it's a book about a woman who uses sex to get what she wants.

I was my early 30s when I find a copy of a Sue Grafton book, I is for Innocent, on my grandmother's nightstand. Soon after that, I also begin reading Sara Paretsky, tearing through every V.I. Warshawski book in print at the time. Embarrassing, but true: I needed Grafton and Paretsky to show me that a PI novel could center on a woman.

Meanwhile, about the same time, I was working at the Baltimore Sun newspaper. I arrived at work one morning to discover that someone had spilled coffee on my desk -- then tried to sop it up with my desk blotter. I tracked down the colleague, a well-regarded reporter who had recently published his first book, a nonfiction account of the city's homicide squad, Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets. I demanded he give me a free copy to make up for the mess he had made of my desk. I figured it would be a useful thing to read, given that I wanted to write crime fiction, even if it was sadly lacking in smut. The colleague was David Simon; sixteen years later, we were married. Alas, he isn't writing books anymore, but instead focuses his energy on television. His latest project is The Deuce, which centers on prostitution and pornography in the 1970s. Obviously, I am appalled by his choice of subject matter.

Laura Lippman - March 2018 

Laura Lippman has been awarded every major prize in crime fiction. Since the publication of What the Dead Know, each of her hardcovers has hit the New York Times bestseller list. A recent recipient of the first-ever Mayor's Prize, she lives in Baltimore, New Orleans and New York City with her family. 

To Find out more about Laura visit
Follow her on Twitter @LauraMLippman
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