I've been traveling around Thailand for the past month. Here's what was in my bag...
Agatha Christie - Murder on the Orient Express
The perfect night train novel. I read it on a sleeper from Bangkok to Chiang Mai. On my flight home I watched Kenneth Branagh's perfectly cast (if not particularly memorable) remake.
John Langan - The Fisherman
This one's been on my radar for the past year. It's impossible not to draw parallels with Lovecraft when a story deals with ancient underwater evil, forbidden eldritch tomes, the dark secrets of a North-Eastern town, etc., but I was also catching hints of M. R. James, Peter Straub's Ghost Story and Stephen King's Pet Sematary. Anyway, this was one of the finest written pieces of weird fiction I've come across in recent memory, and I highly recommend it.
Raymond Chandler - The Big Sleep
The granddaddy of the pulp detective novel. A copy had been lying around my house untouched for months. One night at around 11:00 I was watching an old interview with Lou Reed in which he cited The Big Sleep as his all-time favorite book, and I decided to give it a go. Suddenly all those William Gibson cyberpunk novels came into sharper focus.
Elmore Leonard - Hombre
More Leonard, this time one of his westerns. Reads like a bullet. Fast, to the point, no bullshit. I read this one on the Thailand-Burma line, aka the Death Railway, built by thousands of POW's during WWII.
David Mitchell - Cloud Atlas
I'm pretty much the opposite of a literary scenester, always the last to catch up with the latest work of staggering genius. I'd read Slade House a few years ago, but never got around to Cloud Atlas. I finally dipped into it while spending a week in a beach bungalow on Koh Phangan. What a fucking humbling experience. It absolutely deserves all the praise that's been heaped upon it, even if my patience was wearing a bit thin with the dialect in the post-apocalyptic segment. This book was a great reminder of how happy I am to live in an era in which the barriers between literary and genre fiction have been so rightfully blown up.