Good morning bookies! Stand by for news and comment.
Did you survive Christmas? Are you still trying to live through Hannukah? Your friendly neighborhood bookseller turned into a celebrity chef yesterday, cooked up a bunch of food and is dog tired today. I was looking forward to sleeping in a little, but with 4 dogs every time the wind blows somebody starts barking and today they had a great reason. The city tree trimmers are in my backyard today cutting away any tree branches that might potentially fall on the power lines.
This is good, of course. With all of the storms we have, tomorrow being a good example, downed power lines are a constant threat so anything that might alleviate a problem is welcome. But the day after Christmas? Jeez, guys, did you have to be so dedicated to your work?
*** Have we gotten to the point where absolutely everything is either offensive or controversial to someone? The forthcoming book Angel at the Fence by Herman Rosenblat is one man’s memory of being imprisoned by the Nazis for being Jewish and seeing the girl of his dreams through the camp’s fence. Eventually, after the war, they fall in love and are married. Sweet story, right? The triumph of humanity over evil, right?
Whoa, not so fast. Apparently some sticklers for accuracy are picking the story’s details apart claiming they are untrue, as if this old man and his wife and perpetrating a fraud for some nefarious reason.
Give me a break. I mean, really. So the guy’s memory isn’t great and some details are wrong? That’s supposed to be a big deal? Plenty of ‘non-fiction’ titles appear every year based on bad science, sloppy research or just plain fraud. Certainly memoirs are a prime candidate for the writer to bend history to conform to his or her wishes.
And in fiction the same is true, poor research is overlooked if the story is entertaining. The second worst novel ever written, The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown, is based on some of the most ludicrous research known to man. Granted, it’s a novel, but how many people who read it actually believed the history behind the story?
Some of those who have a problem with this book are survivors, and for them I have a great deal more sympathy. But scholars who couldn’t find their way out of their ivory towers if their life depended on it? Not so much. Arguments such as this say a lot more about the critic than they do the author, and the message is quite clear: go away and search for a life.
*** Last night I finished Ace Atkins’ Wicked City, staying up well past 1 am to get it done. A full review will be coming in the April issue of iloveamysterynewsletter.com, but I don’t think my editor would mind me saying that this book was surprisingly good. Wait, that didn’t come out right. I thought it would be good, I’ve read Atkins, met Atkins, like Atkins. He’s a great guy. I probably would have said something nice even if the book hadn’t been superior. But it was. It was terrific. He has improved drastically as a writer and, based on this one book, I would say is in the first rank of southern crime novelists.
Up next. The Secret Speech by Tom Rob Smith. The sequel to Child 44. Not to be mean or anything, but eat your heart out.
*** So Minneapolis and Seattle are rated as America’s two most literate cities? Okay, I can probably accept that. Why is a more interesting question to me, and I have to wonder if weather doesn’t have a major part to play.