Sarah Weinman.

“After years in Manhattan, I moved to Brooklyn – specifically, Clinton Hill – at the end of the summer. And even though it’s mid-November the apartment and my office still feels “new” to me, and thus I’m still not entirely accustomed to working in it. That’s because the office is now off of the kitchen, all the way on the other side from the bedroom (which I share with my partner, whose office is directly off of the bedroom.) In the old place, my office was in the bedroom, which meant a ten-second commute. Now, if I feel particularly lazy, I’ll check stuff – namely email, Twitter, RSS – on my iPhone, an hour will pass, and then it’ll be 9 AM and time to get properly down to work.

So, the office. Because of the move, and because I’d inherited a second-hand desk and my previous chair got more or less demolished, brand-new furniture was in order with a trip to Office Max. The shelving was actually put on backwards, but because I’m left-handed, I like that they are to the right of the desk, instead of the left. The printer, a Brother-HL2070N, is at least 5 years old but the workhorse still operates like a
charm. Books I’ve read and will be reviewing or writing essays about take the middle shelf, directly next to my computer, while random stuff and a copy of William Zinsser’s “On Writing Well”, far and away the most useful writing advice book I’ve ever read, occupy the top shelf. The laptop used to belong to my father, but we worked out a deal in which he took my previous computer – known as “The Monstrosity” – for mysterious refurbishing, and I’d get this one since, because of poor health, he doesn’t really travel much anymore. It’s a Dell, it’s 17″ and 9 pounds and has now inherited “The Monstrosity”  mantle. Seriously, try lugging the damn thing. Or better yet, don’t.

The Chagall print that hangs on the wall directly above my desk isn’t inspiration more than me wanting to have one of my all-time favorite artists at hand (a print of another big favorite, Renoir, hangs on the wall closest to the door, and is not visible in this photograph.) If I wanted to analyze carefully, I’ve long admired Chagall’s blend of the quirky and the formal, the religious and the naughty, the theatrical and the tragic, and I remain amazed he lived to be nearly 100 and produced art for much of that timeframe. So perhaps it is creative inspiration!

Other favorites lurk nearby; the calendar features artwork by Lawren Harris, my choice among the “Group of Seven” artists from Canada who ganged up in the aftermath of World War I and still dominate a lot of Canadian art talk. Harris’s color scheme is bold and cold, reflecting his many visits to the country’s most Northern climes, and I’ve loved those clean, striking lines of his since I was a child. And most of the CDs on my desk are of Shel Silverstein albums, including the unreleased sessions I wrote about for The Atlantic earlier this fall, a piece I’d been wanting to write for about a decade.

There are a lot of books in my office, primarily crime fiction. It would probably be more frightening if there weren’t books all over the office and the apartment, though.”

Sarah Weinman reports on the business of publishing for DailyFinance, writes the Los Angeles Times’ monthly crime fiction column, contributes to publications such as the Wall Street Journal, The Daily Beast, Maclean’s, and The Guardian, and blogs at Confessions of an Idiosyncratic Mind, hailed by USA TODAY as “a respected resource for commentary on crime and mystery fiction.” She also spends way, way too much time on Twitter @sarahw.

FROM YOUR DESKS: How does it feel to be out of the city and in Brooklyn? Quiet? 

SARAH WEINMAN: On balance, great. I certainly feel more of a connection to the neighborhood I’m living in, thanks to friendly neighbors and more friends living nearby; the coffee shops are way better and more numerous, and it’s fascinating to watch the wave of gentrification swing through here, even as I know well I’m part of that wave.

FYD: How is the takeout?

SW: I do miss the local West Side supermarket with its never-ending cheese department that also stocked pretty much everything I need, but I’m getting used to shopping at multiple places.

FYD: What did you think of the Hollywood casting choices of the American version of Stieg Larsson novels?

SW: I’m really looking forward to how David Fincher (and screenwriter Steven Zaillian) will translate the Millenium Trilogy to the screen – and I say that having really liked the Swedish version of THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO (the sequels are progressively worse) and especially Noomi Rapace as Salander. But the opening scene of THE SOCIAL NETWORK, where Rooney Mara’s character dresses down Jesse Eisenberg as Mark Zuckerberg, convinced me that she’ll be a great Salander. (In fact, I’d love to see Fincher & Sorkin team up for THE GIRL WHO KICKED THE HORNET’S NEST, if it’s made, just for their version of the ending trial sequence.) Daniel Craig may be James Bond, but his long-ago role in ENDURING LOVE as a more beta male solidified my feeling he’s the best “star” choice for Blomqvist. If Erika’s role is beefed up in the American films as compared to the Swedish ones, Robin Wright should be fine, but I worry she’ll end up as diminshed as Lena Endre. Christopher Plummer should rock as old man Vanger. And so on and so forth.

It helps to know two things: Spillane cut his teeth in comics and Mike Hammer is basically a comic book character…

FYD: What other modern foregin crime and mystery writers do you like?

SW: Eoin McNamee,Tana French, Massimo Carlotto, Karin Fossum, Jo Nesbo, Natsuo Kirino, Karin Alvtegen. Carlotto has a new book called BANDIT LOVE that just came out.

FYD: I’m a big pulp fiction fan.  Do you have any place in your heart for the pulp guys like Mickey Spillane? Not to mention the titles, The Erection Set comes to mind… Kiss Me Deadly, My Gun is Quick, I The Jury.

SW: I’m an unabashed devotee to Hard Case Crime and read whatever’s released from that line. As for Spillane, I think that after years of his longtime friend (and posthumous collaborator) Max Allan Collins beating the drum for significance, I’m about ready to reconsider his work from a post-WWII anxiety angle. It helps to know two things: Spillane cut his teeth in comics and Mike Hammer is basically a comic book character, and Spillane was a Jehovah’s Witness who struggled with his faith and whether the books were too violent (which is why his publication history could be haphazard, in tandem with a strong sense of procrastination and variable need to earn a living from his writing.)

FYD: In 2008; you read 462 books. What was the 2009 tally?

SW: In 2009 I read 500 and that’s when I said enough, I had to cut back.

FYD: Still roughly a book a day? Are there two or three 2010 titles which really made the grade?

SW: Still at a book a day or thereabouts, and I’ll recommend some non-crime titles: Elizabeth Smart’s BY GRAND CENTRAL STATION I SAT DOWN AND WEPT, which I re-read for an essay I wrote about the book for the Wall Street Journal Deborah Blum’s THE POISONER’S HANDBOOK, a marvelous account of poison and the dawn of the medical examiner’s office in NYC that is a great model for how to construct narrative non-fiction; and Paul Murray’s SKIPPY DIES, which deserves all the praise it’s received and then some.

3 Comments For “Sarah Weinman.”

  1. Mickey wasn’t a Mormon — he was a Jehovah’s Witness. That’s significant, because a basic tenet seems to be, “Jesus is coming back…and He’s pissed.”

    Read ONE LONELY NIGHT and also try the collaborative THE BIG BANG (and forthcoming KISS HER GOODBYE).

  2. Jiro Kimura says:

    You’ve got a nice desk, Sarah. Mickey Spillane was not a Mormon but a Jehovah’s Witness. Keep on good work. Jiro

  3. Sarah says:

    And that’s what I get for not fact-checking myself, ugh. Thanks much, the both of you, for the necessary correction.

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