Mystery Cornucopia

It figures that there are all these great links accumulating post-Weekend Update. So let’s start this still-sweltering Monday morning with some choice crime fiction-related fare.

First, ah, you have to love Patrick Anderson. His very effusive, complimentary review of SEVERANCE PACKAGE compares Duane Swierczynski with Charlie Huston and showers all sorts of accolades, and then he goes and drops this paragraph bomb:

I followed this surreal massacre in open-mouthed astonishment. At first

the violence was shocking, but finally it became grimly hilarious. One

of Molly’s intended victims turns up with a gun of her own, so

naturally Molly must use a razor-sharp blade to slice off her hands. As

I read this, something clicked in my mind: I had been reminded of poor

Lavinia, in Shakespeare’s

“Titus Andronicus,” who also has her hands chopped off. Did Duane

Swierczynski, who is a former editor of the Philadelphia City Paper,

have Lavinia in mind when he wrote this horrific scene? My guess is he

did. And that brings up another question: Just what is Swierczynski up

to with this cornucopia of blood and betrayal?

Um, I dunno…telling a great story? Imagining the worst that can happen? There’s obviously a big satirical streak running through the book but if you’re going to make assumptions about Shakespearean allusions, maybe it’s not such a bad idea to check if you’re right or not? (Then again, a long time ago I compared a Carol O’Connell novel to 12-tone music, and I still stand by that, but it wasn’t like I inferred that’s what she had in mind.)

Moving on, the LA Weekly runs a literary supplement and there are two crime fiction-centric contributions. First, a long essay about Georges Simenon by John Banville, and this paean to suspense by Thomas Perry:

Suspense isn’t a pleasant sensation. We go to great

lengths to manage our lives in ways that will keep us from having to go

through periods of uncertainty — particularly when it’s prolonged, and

when the stakes are high. But in reading fiction, especially a novel,

we crave this sensation of increasing tension, and the higher the

stakes, the better. We love the experience of sitting somewhere in

perfect safety with a book while some character serves as our surrogate

in facing a world full of danger. What we’re enjoying is growing

excitement, followed by a tantalizingly delayed cathartic ending. It’s

a quality of all good fiction, and it’s why the reader keeps turning

the pages.

I also like Perry’s reasoning behind why critics – literary types, not necessarily genre critics – are suspicious of suspense: “perhaps because [suspense] seems to stimulate emotion rather than intellect: It makes readers care rather than think.”

Finally, the San Diego Union Tribune has a lengthy profile of Don Winslow on the occasion of his new, fabulous novel THE DAWN PATROL. Winslow discusses surfing, his “addiction” to writing, having several books on the go and why he got bored with writing the Neal Carey series. And for those wondering about all those “other” Don Winslow titles, here’s the author’s take:

He doesn’t write erotica, even though there is another author named Don

Winslow out there who does. “That’s really become painful, because of

the Internet. People look me up on or something, and there

it is. I did not write ‘Slave Girls of Rome.’ I swear. But people ask

me about it all the time.”

It’s gotten to the point where he starts every public

appearance – like the one scheduled for tomorrow at the library in

downtown San Diego – with a disclaimer: “I’m not the guy.

It would be nice if Amazon knew this, of course…