Friday, November 19, 2010

Peter Temple, stupid critics, and crime-fiction conventions

One of the stupidest complaints when Peter Temple's Truth won Australia's Miles Franklin Literary Award came from a blog commenter who thought that no crime novel could ever deserve such a prize. Truth, she sniffed, even has a damaged cop in it.

I thought of that idiot when I saw how cleverly Temple announces that Mac Farraday, protagonist of An Iron Rose, used to be a cop.

How do your favorite crime writers take hoary genre conventions and make them fresh?

***
"I'm skilled in the art of interrogation, so I know what you're doing."

Nephew Beyond Borders #1, age 11, as his mother tossed names at him this evening trying to find out whom he'd got in trouble with at school
***
Nephew Beyond Borders #2, age 9, announced tonight that he wants to go to Japan so he can eat poisonous fish.
***
"Novelty is inherently new."

— Sex therapist on The Joy Behar Show this evening talking about athletes who cheat on their spouses

This guy is a lot dumber than my nephews.

© Peter Rozovsky 2010

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29 Comments:

Anonymous Linkmeister said...

I think puffer fish can be found in the United States. Tell Nephew #2 there are far more interesting and uglier things to eat in Japan than that.

You could also tell him that one of the fascinating things about hole-in-the-wall food establishments there is their habit of putting plastic models of sample food in display windows next to the door where passersby can see them.

November 19, 2010  
Anonymous kathy d. said...

Nephew Beyond Borders #1 should start writing detective stories immediately, especially dialogue.

Nephew Beyond Borders #2---well, his parents should make sure he doesn't get a passport for awhile or any plane tickets to Japan.

And the person on the Joy Behar Show--definitely not as smart as the Nephews Beyond Borders, and guilty of spinning a tautology, or at least being redundant.

November 19, 2010  
Blogger Sean Patrick Reardon said...

Nephew #1's line is better than a lot of stuff I've read by published authors.

Newphew #2 possesses a sense of adventure that more of today's kid need.

sex theripst's comment reminds me of something Oscar Wilde would say, but no where near as cleverly.

Going to have to think about you question for a while.

November 19, 2010  
Blogger Dana King said...

Sex therapist's comment remind me of something Bob Errey said on a Penguins' telecast earlier this week, about how tow things were "more or less identical."

November 19, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Linkmeister, I shall relay all that news to Nephew 2. He may also want to know that I have read a series of mysteries about a character called Pufferfish.

Japanese restaurants in North America display such plastic models of ther food as well,and some of the models are astonishingly realistic. Their manufacture is one of the world's odd little industries. I wonder when it began. Did roadside inns along the roads Hiroshige made famous in his prints display such models (though the wuld not have been plastic then.) Is food sculpture an old tradition in Japan?

November 19, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Nephew Beyond Borders #1 should start writing detective stories immediately, especially dialogue.

Kathy, that was my thought as well. He's reported to have said that detective stories are "lame" (though I'm uncertain he's ever read one), but he'll get over that.

Nephew Beyond Borders #2---well, his parents should make sure he doesn't get a passport for awhile or any plane tickets to Japan.

Or any means to pay for the tickets.

And the person on the Joy Behar Show--definitely not as smart as the Nephews Beyond Borders, and guilty of spinning a tautology, or at least being redundant.

Or of knowing brains -- and their opposite -- when you see them.

November 19, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Nephew #1's line is better than a lot of stuff I've read by published authors.

Sean, his dialogue is a nice combination of English precision and American hardheadedness, isn't it?

Newphew #2 possesses a sense of adventure that more of today's kid need.

A credit card in his hand, and the world will be his oyster.

sex theripst's comment reminds me of something Oscar Wilde would say, but no where near as cleverly.

I would wager that this particular sex therapist had never before been mentioned in the same sentence as Oscar Wilde.

November 19, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Dana, sportscasters are notorious dopes when they turn analytical, but at least they have the excuse of occasionally being too caught up in the action to choose their words carefully.

November 19, 2010  
Blogger Fred said...

Peter,

How about the "Good Buddy" convention? It must go back thousands of years, as far back as Gilgamesh and Enkidu, probably around 2600 B. C.

Charles Todd's Scotland Yard Inspector Ian Rutledge has a "good buddy." It's the ghost of his WWI NCO, Hamish MacLeod, who accompanies Rutledge on his cases and provides the opposing point of view that's required of the buddy. It's a unique way of working out Rutledge's own doubts about the way the investigation is proceeding.

November 19, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Yeah, Enkidu probably is the world's first sidekick. And I'd say a ghost as a good buddy is a hell of an original way to revitalize an old convention. Thanks.

November 19, 2010  
Blogger Solea said...

You've got to show NBB #2 that episode of Colombo where the food critic poisons Vittorio Rossi with a Japanese blowfish. Sushi roulette! (Netflix, instant play...)
NBB#1 sounds like he's ready to begin blogging!

November 19, 2010  
Blogger R/T said...

Note:
Novels, Stories, and More is returning!

November 19, 2010  
Anonymous Linkmeister said...

One of Dick Francis's novels (Comeback, I'm thinking) used the tetrodotoxin poison from pufferfish as the killer's preferred agent.

November 19, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I'll be back to respond at greater length later. I'm heading out with my brother and maybe one of my nephews to do some shopping. I wonder if young #2 will insist on pufferfish.

November 19, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

You've got to show NBB #2 that episode of Colombo where the food critic poisons Vittorio Rossi with a Japanese blowfish. Sushi roulette!

Not to mention the episode of The Simpsons in which Homer eats blowfish or pufferfish and thinks he's going to die.

NBB#1 sounds like he's ready to begin blogging!

Solea: I doubt he could tear himself away from computer games long enough to engage in a constructive activity like blogging.

November 19, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Thanks, R/T.

November 19, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Linkmeister, here are some of my posts about Pufferfish: http://detectivesbeyondborders.blogspot.com/search/label/Pufferfish

November 19, 2010  
Anonymous kathy d. said...

Suggestion that Uncle Beyond Borders find some interesting and age appropriate mysteries for Nephew Beyond Borders #1 to read and enjoy.

There is so much variety of crime fiction that some books and authors should appeal to him. Maybe some very action-oriented, dialogue-laden contemporary books.

My own nephew, now a young adult, who is not beyond borders, unless New England counts, does like mysteries if they're combined with semi-horror, ghoulish, macabre writing, or perhaps a bit of science fiction.

I think he's liked some Stephen King books.

November 20, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

NBB#1 read The Red Badge of Courage for school, so books with war themes might appeal to him.

In any case, he as much as claims he was misquoted or taken out of context on the remark that crime fiction is lame.

November 20, 2010  
Anonymous kathy d. said...

Also, my Nephew Within Borders liked and still likes Nail Gaiman. One book he mentioned while still a teenager, was "The Graveyard Book," which looks ghoulish and ghostly enough.

November 20, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Neil Gaiman has been often recommended to me. I think that if NBB1 finds his way to crime fiction in the near future, it will be through adventure stories, preferably with a military angle.

In any case, I did not start reading crime fiction in a big way until well into my adult life, so he has plenty of time left to find it on his own.

November 20, 2010  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, probably true, but it is rewarding to give them books that they enjoy, which helps to set them on a path to reading, including mysteries, whatever genre they like.

November 20, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I just have to figure out which books to give them. NBB #1 might enjoy a book on military strategy, for instance.

November 20, 2010  
Anonymous Linkmeister said...

Military strategy? Try Cornelius Ryan's three books: The Longest Day, A Bridge Too Far, and The Last Battle.

November 20, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Young NBB #1 is on his way to a reading list. Thanks.

November 20, 2010  
Anonymous Linkmeister said...

More. My personal opinion is that Gordon Prange's At Dawn We Slept is the best Pearl Harbor history written, but others swear by Lord's Day of Infamy. Prange's is an historian's perspective; Lord's is a storytellers.

I never met anyone not fascinated by the Titanic, so Walter Lord's A Night to Remember might be a good choice too.

November 21, 2010  
Anonymous kathy d. said...

I don't relate to anything military and neither does my Nephew Within Borders, but, anything that gets your Nephew Beyond Borders #1 reading and enjoying it, is good.

November 21, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Linkmeister, I visited the big Titanic exhibit that toured museums a few years ago, and I've seen the dry dock where the ship was built in Belfast. I enjoyed both, but I'm not one of the millions fascinated by the Titanic. Perhaps I should be; a budding youg mystery writer whose career was off to a fine start (Jacques Futrelle) went down with the ship.

November 21, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Kathy, that's a commendable attitude. I played with guns when I was a child, but I did not turn out especially violent as an adult.

November 21, 2010  

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