Crime fiction written by a Man Booker Prize winner is that rarest of creatures: gorgeous, good fun and smart to boot, like a buxom blonde with a 200 IQ. Such is the case with the new novel from literary heavyweight Benjamin Black, the pen name of Irish novelist John Banville, who won the 2005 Booker for The Sea. This week, Banville/Black reads from Christine Falls, which follows a tormented Dublin pathologist (the alcoholic Quirke) deep into a conspiracy involving his obstetrician brother (and rival), a mysterious dead woman, and Catholic high society. Babies vanish from an orphanage. Corpses are tampered with. Local novelist Tara Ison — who has her own separate reading this week for her new book, The List — will talk novels and noir with Black/Banville.
And speaking of hybrid genres, editor Dennis Cooper will be at Skylight to discuss his new anthology, Userlands: New Fiction Writers From the Blogging Underground, along with contributors Stanya Kahn, Aaron Nielsen, Jack Shamama, Garrison Taylor and Bett Williams. Ah, blogs. We love them. We hate them. We love to hate them. Regardless, weblogs — which Cooper argues are the zines of the 21st century — are the medium of the moment, equal parts diary, online scrapbook and serial short story. Cooper plucks a few voices from the multitudes, giving physical heft and substrate to a fleeting, quicksilver new literature.
Benjamin Black with Tara Ison as part of the ALOUD at Central Library series, Central Library Mark Taper Auditorium, 5th & Flower streets, dwntwn.; Wed., March 21, 7 p.m. (213) 228-7025. Tara Ison at Dutton’s Books, 11975 San Vicente Blvd., Brentwood; Sat., March 17, 2 p.m. (310) 476-6263. Dennis Cooper and others at Skylight Books, 1818 N. Vermont Ave., Los Feliz; Mon., March 19, 7:30 p.m. (323) 660-1175.