Of power lines and literary grinches

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.

Whiners whine because that’s what whiners do

And another waste of cyber-space

*** 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.

Braving snow and rain, or sitting by a fire reading a good book? Which would you choose?

4 thoughts on “Of power lines and literary grinches

  1. Billthebookguy says:

    Laura- That is a beautiful story. Thanks so much for sharing it. Stan Lee and Neal Adams are two of my favorite people, Adams being my second all-time favorite comic artist behind Barry Windsor Smith.

    The odd parallel is that here in Memphis there was a German POW who worked at one of our hospitals during the war. He also painted a mural of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. However, I knnow that Disney was quite popular overseas before the war.

    My point with the Rosenblats wasn’t that what they did was right, it’s that the book should have been published as fiction to illustrate the horrors of the holocaust.

    Thanks so much for your comments, I hope you continue to find my blog valuable.

  2. Laura says:

    How awful that the Rosenblats lied about their story and that the publishers and movie makers and Oprah didn’t figure it out. So sad.

    Some Holocaust love stories are true. The NY Times featured a story about the famous comic book artists Stan Lee and Neal Adams and a story they were publicizing.

    The story is about Dina Gottliebova Babbitt who was a 19 year old art student at Auschwitz. There she was asked by the Jewish head of the children's camp to paint something to cheer them up. Dina painted a mural of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves and in the end, Dina's art became the reason for her salvation.

    Painting the mural for the children caused Dina to be taken in front of Dr. Mengele, the Angel of Death. She thought she was going to be gassed, but she bravely stood up to Mengele and he decided to make her his portrait painter, saving herself and her mother from the gas chamber.

    After the war, Dina applied for a job to be an animator and the person interviewing her turned out to be the man who created Snow White & the 7 Dwarfs for the movie. They fell in love and got married. Show White saved Dina's life twice!

  3. Snap says:

    Hi Bill,

    The Dragon family had a delightful Christmas. Thanks for asking and visiting.

    I’m happy to hear you thought the new Ace Atkins is very good. He’s a nice guy who deserves support for writing a very good book.


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