Book Brahmin: John Sandford

John Sandford is the pseudonym of journalist John Camp. In 1980, he was named a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for an article he wrote on the Native American communities in Minnesota and North Dakota and their modern-day social problems. In 1986, Camp won the Pulitzer for feature writing for a series of articles on the farm crisis in the Midwest.

Camp has written 21 books in the Prey series. He has also written four books in the Kidd series; four in the series starring Virgil Flowers; and two nonseries novels, The Night Crew and Dead Watch. Sandford has been hailed as a "born storyteller" (San Diego Tribune), and his work as "the kind of trimmed-to-the-bone thriller you can't put down" (Chicago Tribune). His latest in the Lucas Davenport Prey series is Buried Prey (Putnam, May 10, 2011) and, as expected, it's another fine mystery--shifting between the present and Davenport's early days as a cop with an unsurprising reputation for recklessness.

On your nightstand now:

Wild Trout, a 1998 book edited by Nick Lyons that my girlfriend found in a used book store and is terrific; Gerhard Richter, a Life in Painting by Dietmar Elger (translated by Elizabeth Solaro); and Alice Neel: Painted Truths, from the Houston Museum of Fine Arts. I'm not so much reading the Neel book as looking at it. I'm also slogging through a book on how to use the Numbers spreadsheet, and it is profoundly awful--so awful that I may try to learn Excel instead. Did you know that the name Excel is apparently a pun? 

Favorite book when you were a child:

Grimms' Fairy Tales. My father had a full-color illustrated version, which scared the hell out of me from the time I was probably three years old, way back before TV. The very first letters I ever tried to form are written in the back of the book, in crayon. 

Your top five authors:

I don't really think this way, but there are several authors whose books I buy immediately upon publication, or whenever I happen to find them: George MacDonald Fraser, who died a couple years ago; Alan Furst, who writes the best atmosphere since Casablanca; Stephen King, who often makes me laugh and always holds my interest, and who has written some extremely interesting nonfiction; Martha Grimes, who writes great villains, and who also wrote probably the only known verse thriller in Send Bygraves; and Garrison Keillor, whose books I don't always like, but never leave unfinished. He may also be the best compiler of poetry who ever walked the earth.

Book you've faked reading:

The Canterbury Tales:

When that April is, with his showers swoot,
The drought of March hath pierced to the root,
And bathed every vein in such licour,
At that time you can kiss my large white ass....

Book you're an evangelist for:

The Queen's Gambit by Walter Tevis. Should be a book read by every intelligent young woman. Or young man. Maybe.

Book you've bought for the cover:

Never happened. I'm a browser, and I always look inside first. Oh, wait: I think I bought the spreadsheet book by the cover.

Book that changed your life:

The Pine Barrens by John McPhee. Taught me how to report, and then write what I'd seen. 

Favorite line from a book:

Opening lines from the King James Version of the Bible:
"In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light."

Book you want to read again for the first time:

The Three Musketeers, Alexandre Dumas.

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