My Books



“I actually could not put the book down. It is well written and kept my interest. I want more from this author.”
Reader review of Maximilian and Carlotta Are Dead on Amazon.com 

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Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Agreeing with Stephen Fry

Work on Volume Three of the Dallas Green Trilogy continues. After getting through Christmas and flu seasons in January, I finally got back in my stride. With luck, there should not be too many more distractions for a while, although the Irish general election and the Academy Awards pretty much wiped out the past weekend for doing anything productive.

I am happy to report that I am now most of the way through Chapter 16 of the initial draft, which may well be the halfway mark. Strange thing. Dallas and a new friend were recently in Mendoza, Argentina, which required some online research. Now my email inbox is inundated with special offers from TripAdvisor about places to stay in Mendoza.

I still do not have a title, although I have been toying with one that I have mixed feelings about. It would be even more obscure than my other Dallas book titles, and it would be a departure from my established pattern of mentioning one or more historical figures in each title. For the time being it is probably best to just keep writing, and the best solution may dawn on me when least expected.

I was saddened to learn on Friday of the death of Orson Bean in a pedestrian traffic accident near his home in Venice, California. The 91-year-old actor/comedian/writer was a raconteur of the highest order. By coincidence we had spotted him just a couple of evenings before in a guest spot on the Netflix sitcom Grace and Frankie. I will no doubt at some point write more about him on my movie blog, but I thought he was worth mentioning here because of another coincidence. As you might suspect, Orson Bean was not his birth name. He adopted it because he thought it sounded funny. The name he was born with? Dallas Frederick Burrows. The irony from my point of view is that everyone my Dallas meets seems to think his name is funny.

While I am rambling here, let me share something I recently learned about books in Great Britain. Books and newspapers in the UK are exempt from value added tax (VAT). That is the 20-percent levy added to most things you buy in the UK and pretty much throughout the rest of Europe. Exempting reading material from VAT makes sense. After all, why discourage people from reading by making it that bit more expensive? The weird thing, though, is that VAT is not excluded from e-books. In other words, there is relative penalty for reading books on a digital device.

Nearly 700 writers have banded together to try to get this changed. In a letter to The Sunday Times they point out that younger people are more likely to use digital devices and those are the very people you most want to encourage to read. The VAT is also a penalty on people who must use e-books because of visual impairment.

The list of writers backing the call includes such notables as Stephen Fry, Shades of Grey author E.L. James, and The Girl on the Train author Paula Hawkins.

An excerpt from their letter: “Reading is one of the greatest pleasures there is. Books are a passport to other worlds, to other ways of life. They help people develop empathy, offer comfort, inspire and challenge. It is vital that everybody can access the joy and opportunity of reading; regardless of their age, income or physical capability.”

For what it’s worth, you can add my name to those sentiments.