Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Ruth Jordan; Thomas Cook

Thanks to Sarah Weinman's Confessions of an Indiosyncratic MInd

Central Crime Zone
An extension of the Crimespree Magazine website this is place for us to put extra stories and reviews related to the magazine. We are happy to hear your thoughts and comments.

Ed here: A wise column by Ruth Jordan

Apr 2, 2008
Sometimes the words come and sometimes they don’t. sometimes the narrative passages are there and sometimes they aren’t. Just tonight I heard the comment “Michael Chabon was nominated for an Edgar Award because the M.W.A. wants credibility. They want their award to be a literary award”.

Pfui, as a certain cerebral detective used to comment. Much has been made of what is and isn’t on this year’s Edgar Award list. The fact that I did at least 30 “happy dances” while reading the award nominations says a lot. The fact that when people began pointing out who didn’t make the list, I began to question, means perhaps even more. This isn’t about the judges. This year’s Edgar Awards embrace everything I covet within my own little realm of mystery. I know the judges this year are all readers. You can tell from the lists of nominees. But the comment, off hand and uttered amongst true fans, bothers me a little and worries me a lot.

For, and I’m saying this with a straight face, we are snobs!! Reverse snobs and so, therefore worse. Can someone just send me back to a John Hughes movie please. What am I talking about? I’ll give you two instances of recent “Jordan” conversation along with a recent posting thread on 4MA and ask you think about this. Talk about it, blog about it and if you post a response to this blog, this is one time when I will respond (usually I just cut and run)

Time and time again you hear the genre versus literature argument. Time and time again, I myself have said it’s a good two hours but no …. (plug in fav “literary” or “mystery” author here). Frankly I’m bored and a little disappointed in both sides. This is a world where the person who reads 300 books a year is reading the same percentage of published books as the person who reads two, and by that I mean 1% of all published novels. It’s about time we get off our high horses here. Because, for a book to be noted as literary it has to continue to be read. This applies to all novels, no matter how they are originally branded by the marketing departments that release them. Did anyone really imagine we’d still be reading about Holden Caulfield who read the first print run of CATCHER IN THE RYE? That the ophthalmologist billboard in THE GREAT GATSBY would resonate to this day?

for the rest go here http://centralcrimezone.blogspot.com/2008/04/glass-ceiling.html

Ed here: A serious and seriously entertaining mystery writer

Master of Crisis and Crime
by Jordan Foster -- Publishers Weekly, 4/7/2008

Thomas H. Cook, the prolific crime writer, says that he’s always believed that crime writing “can be meditative. It’s all about resonance.” Cook’s work—from his breakthrough 13th novel, Edgar-winning The Chatham School Affair (Bantam, 1996), to his 22nd, and latest, Master of the Delta, coming this June from Harcourt—explores moral dimensions that reach far beyond the crime. In fact, he often makes use of dual story lines that enable a character to look back on a past traumatic event in order to sort out the ethical implications.

“When you have a character looking back, you’re not talking about the action anymore,” he says. “You’re talking about the consequences of that action in the moral universe that the person continues to occupy. That’s what happens in Master of the Delta.”

Talking about his earlier work, Cook looks almost apologetic when reminded of the similarities between 1995’s Breakheart Hill (Bantam) and Master. “They do have similar gimmicks,” he admits, though each book ends with a different—and shocking—conclusion. In fact, many of Cook’s novels end with a twist. Does he know the surprise ending before he begins? “Sometimes I do,” he says, and he cites as example 2005’s Red Leaves (Harcourt). “But mostly I just have an idea. I like classic themes.”

His stories, he says, depend on atmosphere and setting. “I couldn’t imagine Breakheart Hill anywhere but the town I grew up in, and I don’t think Chatham could have taken place the same way outside of New England.” Born in Alabama in 1947, Cook has lived in New York City since his graduate student days in the late 1960s. His New York experience accounts for a good deal of the gritty, urban feel of his work.

Of course, the designation of being a crime writer or mystery writer, no matter how expedient for readers, presents its problems for the writer. When asked about genre, Cook observes, “It’s always a struggle, what you call yourself. I think it can be snooty to define yourself as something other than a crime writer. I’ve written mainstream fiction. But essentially I write about people in crisis, and crime is usually what propels that crisis. So the label doesn’t bother me. It’s a balance.”

for the rest go here http://www.publishersweekly.com/article/CA6547972.html

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I've seen several of Thomas Cook's books over the years, but i've never read one of them. Maybe I should give 1 a try. thank you for reminding me!