Monday, June 30, 2008

Good things from across the border, Part I

I thank the reader who brought to my attention Penguin's covers for the new Canadian editions of Howard Engel's Benny Cooperman mysteries. The one to your right is worth a comment even before I begin reading it.

Note the wheelchair, the thought balloon and the title's backwards B. These are, presumably, references to an affliction shared by Cooperman and Engel. Like his protagonist, Engel suffered from alexia sine agraphia, a condition in which the sufferer can write but not read. (In Engel's case, the condition resulted from a stroke. I don't know the protagonist's circumstances.) This obviously must have been a terrible blow for an author to overcome, and I believe the cover design captures that beautifully.

Oliver Sacks, the neurologist and author who has written with much understanding about any number of strange neurological conditions, wrote an afterword to this book, which leads me to suspect that the cover's hints at mental and physical struggles accurately reflect the book's contents.

Next: Toronto is widely known for the numerous movies filmed there but set in other cities. In the coming days, I'll be discussing a crime novel that makes Toronto so cool that producers may soon want to start shooting movies in other cities and pretending they're Toronto instead of the other way around.

© Peter Rozovsky 2008

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7 Comments:

Blogger Sandra Ruttan said...

"In the coming days, I'll be discussing a crime novel that may make Toronto so cool that producers may soon want to start shooting movies in other cities and pretending they're Toronto instead of the other way around."

Sounds like the reaction I had to John McFetridge's DIRTY SWEET

June 30, 2008  
Blogger GJG said...

your posts are always informative and intellectually challenging. I however have to wonder, how many of your blog readers, have the same in depth knowledge of so many authors----this post for example? how many readers knew of the authors real life mental handicap?? I was in Toronto once, is that the city with the big radio tower Building?

June 30, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

SPOILER: Unlike his creator, Howard Engel, Benny Cooperman's alexia was caused by a severe blow to the head in the course of an investigation. This is the starting point for the case in the "Memory Book".

June 30, 2008  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

GJG: Thanks for the note, though you may give me too much credit. Howard Engel's condition will inevitable get mentioned in any discussion of the book. That means that even folks who, like me, have not yet read the book, will know about it.

I had never heard of alexia sine agraphia before I heard of this book, by the way, which is one more example of how crime fiction can be educational. I'm reminded of a comment I heard recently from an author that he likes writing crime fiction because it allows to deal with any issue that he wants to deal with.

Toronto has the CN Tower, which is mentioned a few times in the book that I shall discuss shortly.

July 01, 2008  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Sandra: Right author, wrong novel.

Anonymous: I'd call that a permissible spoiler, sice the blow on the head is the starting point. Thanks.

July 01, 2008  
Anonymous wheelchair vans toronto said...

"Note the wheelchair, the thought balloon and the title's backwards B. These are, presumably, references to an affliction shared by Cooperman and Engel"
what a wonderful and brilliant observation! i hadnt noticed that!

Cheers,
Rogue

September 21, 2008  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Assuming that's not a sly dig at me for stating the obvious, thanks. The wheelchair and thought balloon work on their own terms as compelling design and are also clever allusions to the book's subject. The cover is a nice piece of work.

September 21, 2008  

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