Author Archive: Bill Ott


Pelecanos, Locked and Loaded

October 22, 2013

I started reading George Pelecanos in 1997, when he published King Suckerman, which is, of all things, a fictional homage to the “blaxploitation” films of the 1970s. Combining the eccentric flash of Pulp Fiction, the noir soul of David Goodis, and the idiosyncratic heart of Elmore Leonard, this wildly violent novel effectively evokes the comic … Continue reading Pelecanos, Locked and Loaded


Marisha Pessl’s Night Film Leaves a Lasting Impression

September 3, 2013

It’s the time of year when all of us connected to the publishing world begin speculating about the season’s big books. The major book shows—BookExpo America in May and ALA Annual Conference in June—have come and gone, leaving dozens of potential big books in their wakes. Now comes the predicting, the opinion swapping, and, one … Continue reading Marisha Pessl’s Night Film Leaves a Lasting Impression


Reading the Carnegie Longlist

May 28, 2013

Helping launch the Andrew Carnegie Medals for Excellence in Fiction and Nonfiction was one of the most exciting things I’ve ever done in my many years at Booklist. We had very little time to get the awards off the ground last year. The official announcement that Booklist, RUSA, and Carnegie Corporation of New York would … Continue reading Reading the Carnegie Longlist


Hot Country

February 20, 2013

I’m a sucker for novels starring war correspondents, especially those set in tropical climes. You know what I’m talking about here—rumpled, sweat-stained seersucker suits; constant consumption of gin and tonics (ostensibly to fight off malaria); a few days’ growth of beard (before that look became hip); and, most important, a sense of constant innuendo hanging … Continue reading Hot Country

An Homage to Film Noir

August 7, 2012

We all know about life imitating art, but what about novels imitating film—film noir in particular? Patrick Conrad’s No Sale (the words written in lipstick on a mirror by Gloria Wandrous, the Elizabeth Taylor character in Butterfield 8) is only the latest in a short list of noir fiction that draws on film noir. I’m … Continue reading An Homage to Film Noir


Translit: New Genre Collapses Time and Space

March 28, 2012

At the recent Public Library Association conference in Philadelphia, my friend and Booklist columnist David Wright, who was giving a presentation on literary fiction, used a term I had never heard, translit, to describe that boundary-breaking kind of novel that shatters all the too-often pigeonholing categories we use to compartmentalize modern fiction. The term, David … Continue reading Translit: New Genre Collapses Time and Space

Science for the Nonscientist

February 22, 2012

I was never any good at science, whether it was dissecting a frog or—God help me—completing a science-fair project. My personal nadir came on a chemistry exam in high school. I like to think my score of eight points out of a possible 100 remains, these many decades later, the worst officially posted number in … Continue reading Science for the Nonscientist