Have Books, Will Travel: To The Emerald Isle

With a spring thaw on the horizon and holidays out of the way, it’s time to start holding ourselves accountable for all of those 2020 travel plans we pinned to our vision boards back in January. That’s right, readers. It’s time to pack your suitcases and, with any luck, make it to the airport in time to grab an overpriced coffee and get a head start on a good book. But where to, you ask? Ireland, of course. It is March, after all. In this month’s edition of Have Books, Will Travel, we take you to the Emerald Isle with novels that feature the historic country’s lush setting and plots that are sure to keep your interest until the next pint arrives.

9780143113492_18b4aIn The Woods by Tana French
The Land of Saints and Scholars has mystical wonders galore…or so we’ve heard. In any case, what better way to enjoy a view of the mist rising from the sea among moss-covered stones than with a cup of Irish breakfast tea and a good mystery? Continue reading

St. Pat-a-Palooza: 10 Writers or Characters Named Patrick or Patricia

This St. Patrick’s day, we thought we’d give St. Patrick some support. So here’s a team of modern-day Patrick and Patricias to fill out his team. From the Patron Saint of Nose Jobs to the High Priest of 60s Mod Men, we hope these authors, actors, and fictional characters will entertain and delight you.

Patrick Süskind: Patron Saint of Nose Jobs
If you’ve ever eaten a transcendent meal, sipped wine that made you swoon, or smelled a perfume that sent you straight to heaven, this book is for you. Perfume: The Story of a Murderer is the story of an infant abandoned in the filth of an 18th century fish market in Paris. Off to a very rocky start, he survives, and as he grows up, develops the most acute sense of smell in the world. What follows is a lot of robbing things of their aromatic souls and a stern cautionary message about obsession. The story is unique, the character development is exceptional, and the pace is fast. Take note: the movie is nowhere near as good as the book – it’s impossible to convey all the smelly hijinks on-screen.  Want another truly unique tale? Try Wolf in White Van by John Darnielle, the story of Sean Phillips, a burn victim who creates roleplaying games that guide players through intricately imagined post-apocalyptic worlds. For some fans, his imaginary world blurs with reality, and as the players make their choices, we travel back in time to the choices Sean made that resulted in his disfigurement.  Mystery, the life choices we make, injury, and recovery are all here in a dark, complicated tapestry. This one may haunt you.

Patrick Bateman: Icon of Cultural Fail
 Is he a greed-filled psychopathic killer, or just an unreliable, hallucinating, self-aggrandizing narrator? American Psycho is a controversial book – even banned in some countries – yet it continues to show up on Top 10 lists. Its themes are greed, status-obsession, loss of empathy and various other reptilian behaviors at the individual and cultural level. Choose with care: do you really want to read about a deranged killer singing “The Greatest Love of All” while wielding an industrial staple gun? The New York Times called the film “a mean and lean horror comedy classic,” and all other things aside, Christian Bale’s performance as Bateman is chilling. Too graphic? I wouldn’t say that Dexter is a kinder, gentler psychopath, but at least he limits his killing to those who deserve it. Mostly. If you might enjoy Really Really Evil people getting their vigilante comeuppance, and want a deeper look into the life and mind of a psycho, this is for you.

Patrick Rothfuss: Torch Bearer for the Long Haulers
Because for some folks, the first volume is just a prologue. If you’re seeking long-haul transport to another world, Rothfuss’ Kingkiller Chronicles is a gorgeous, dark and immersive trilogy that will do the trick. Kvothe, the main character, is occasionally a bit of a Mary Sue…”I have talked to Gods, loved women, and written songs that make the minstrels weep. You may have heard of me,” but you have to forgive him: he has mad skills, and his story is extraordinary.  Other escapist-fantasy sets we love: Tolkien, The Fionavar Tapestry, The Deepness Trilogy,  Imajica (two volumes but with a page count of three),  All Souls Trilogy, Bio of a Space Tyrant, The Chronicles of Amber, and The Culture Series.  Short on time? Get an entire trilogy’s worth of content in one volume with Charles Stross’ Accelerando.

Patrick Crawley: Spirit-Brother of the Redshirts
Who remembers Downton Abbey’s Patrick Crawley from season 1, who sank with the Titanic instead of marrying Lady Mary? True to redshirt form, he only gets a brief cameo here so that we can recommend Julian Fellowes’ Past Imperfect. This book invokes the crumbling British aristocracy in the mid-20th century at a very personal level; you’ll feel as if you’re part of the events taking place. It’s full of subtle intrigue and spans generations. Highly recommended for those who enjoy the genre! Seeking similar but different? Readers who like British class clashes will also enjoy Elizabeth George’s Inspector Lynley mysteries – elaborate whodunits unraveled by an earl who works alongside the common folks on the police force. Start with A Great Deliverance or watch the series. If you’ve had your fill of stuffy British manners, consider a high-octane blood-soaked slashy action flick, starring poor, dead Matthew Crawley (Dan Stevens) – The Guest.  Leave the lights on for this one!

Patricia Highsmith: Guardian Angel of Persecuted Love
1952 was the year Alan Turing was arrested and jailed for being gay. As whispers of a homosexual underground in the State Department caused The Lavender Scare and the Veteran’s Administration was denying benefits due to sexual orientation, Patricia Highsmith wrote The Price of Salt, the first gay novel with a happy ending. The claustrophobia and repressive attitudes of the 1950s are present here, but are counterbalanced beautifully by the lyrical first love of a young woman in New York City. It’s smoldering and hypnotic, and the writing is a cultural observer’s delight: “It reminded her of the conversations at tables, on sofas, with people whose words seemed to hover over dead, unstirrable things, who never touched a string that played.” Highsmith wrote many psychological thrillers, and her novel Strangers on a Train became a Hitchcock classic. Too quaint? Risk culture shock by fast-forwarding 30 years later to Don Juan in the Village by Jane DeLynn – a time capsule of the early 1990s NYC gay scene in its own right.

Patrick Macnee: High Priest of 1960s Mod Men
You may be cool, but you’ll never be John Steed cool. Watch this mod, mad British classic, and don’t miss the episode titled The House That Jack Built, which features a giant computerized psychedelic mousetrap designed to drive Emma Peel insane.  Macnee’s memoir, The Avengers – The Inside Story is also a lot of fun. Want more? Here’s another British mod espionage series, and another Patrick. In The Prisoner, Patrick McGoohan, plays a retired secret agent who’s abducted and taken to what looks like an idyllic village, but is really a bizarre Orwellian prison. As each escape attempt is thwarted by a belligerent, undulating weather balloon called Rover; things get weirder and weirder till the surprising conclusion. Who is number one? And what drugs were involved in the making of this very British pop-cultural product?

Patrick Stewart: Patron Saint of Making It So
Patrick Stewart owns those three words now – there’s no point in anyone else saying them anymore, ever. In addition to snatching the Sexiest Bald Guy Ever Award away from Yul Brynner’s 30-years-dead but still-hot hands, Stewart is known for becoming a flute virtuoso, betraying humanity to the Borg then saving us from assimilation, training aspiring young mutants and defying the time travel paradox in The X-Men Trilogy, and reciting Shakespeare like a boss. If your Star Trek TNG and X-Men collections are already complete, the Patrick Stewart biography contains some surprises and is worth a read. Been there, done that? Looking for an edgier intergalactic bald guy, perhaps with some mutant Eyeshine and a little more Brown-Chicken-Brown-Cow? Riddick books or movies might be the hero you need.

Patrick Modiano: Patron Saint of Meaning-Seekers
In Suspended Sentences, a collection of three novellas that won a Nobel literature prize, Modiano sends us floating down gentle streams that blend memory and imagination. Through stories of lost loves, abandoned children, mentors and parents, empty apartments and shuttered old hotels, Modiano’s characters slowly tantalize us with small, glittering glimpses of their lives. You can feel his characters striving to discover and form meaning from the mysteries of their pasts. Time blurs, identities blur, and reality, it seems, is more elusive than you think. The writing is delicate and detached, as memories from the past often are, but the stories are deeply haunting. Want another tantalizing story steeped in history? All the Light We Cannot See, a story about a blind girl and a soldier whose paths cross during World War II, a priceless blue diamond and the horrors of war with 38 weeks on the New York Times Bestseller list, this one’s an intricate, suspenseful read.

Patrick “Kitten” Braden: Hope-bringer for Hearts of Glass
Breakfast on Pluto is a surreal coming-of-age story about outsiders, loyalty and individualism. Patrick’s a foundling, abandoned on the doorstep of a church in a small village in Ireland. Against a backdrop of escalating political violence, the child matures into a gentle but saucy trans woman and sets out to find her mother.  Too fragile for this world – a modern-day Blanche DuBois – it looks as if the world is going to chew her up and spit her out, but the kindness of strangers, luck and staying true to herself may save the day.  You might weep for humanity, yet it’s enchanting and funny, too. Happily, the movie by the director of Oscar-winning The Crying Game is every bit as good as the book, and Cillian Murphy’s performance is exceptional. Too gauzy and surreal? Boys Don’t Cry is a nonfiction story in this same vein, albeit with a darker ending.

Patrick Swayze: Squadron Commander of the 80s Retro Movement
Sure, we could dismiss Patrick Swayze because he was voted Sexiest Man Alive way back in 1991, but then we’d miss his gorgeous dance moves in Dirty Dancing, his slick, smarmy role as a pedophiliac motivational speaker in Donnie Darko and his just plain awesome Bodhisattva-surfer-bank robber character in Point Break. This man had range, and I’m not just talking about his fouetté jeté. Put on your retro goggles, set your disco ball to stun, unbutton your lamé shirt to your navel and enjoy. Want extra retro credit? Grab some Bee Gees or Thriller on vintage vinyl and tighten up those dance moves. Stay alive out there.

Pam is the General Manager of HPB.com.

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