Monday, December 10, 2012

Crime Factory: Hard Labour

That's right, labour. It's how they spell the word in Australia and the rest of the Commonwealth of Nations. Here in America, labour is under attack, letter by letter. It's labor now, and God knows whether the word will even exist once America becomes a nation of Apple store iPhone hawkers — if we're lucky enough to have jobs at all.

Hard Labour is a collection of noir and hard-boiled stories from Australia put together by the folks at Crime Factory, and it has some good people in it, including some you've read about here.

Here's the opening of "In Savage Freedom," the contribution by David Whish-Wilson, a subject of recent discussion here at Detectives Beyond Borders:
"A father is God to his son. 
"My father said that before I killed him, but he wasn't talking about us."
Then there's "The Dutch Book," by DBB favorite Adrian McKinty, the tale of a bookie's runner and his friend who try to pull a fast one on a vicious mobster. The story does not end the way you probably think, and that is reason enough to read it, and the rest of the stories in the collection, and McKinty's stunningly good Cold Cold Ground and I Hear the Sirens in the Street (the latter out Jan. 7 in the UK). They're the best there is even if you won't see splashy ads for them or read about them in your local newspaper.

© Peter Rozovsky 2012

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22 Comments:

Blogger adrian mckinty said...

Peter

MANY thanks for the hup ya.

Interesingly and confusingly the Australian Labor Party the ALP is spelled the American way with no U which throws your Australian spell check into havoc mode as labour in every other context has the u. "His speech at the Labor Party Convention was somewhat laboured," is an example of how crazy that is.

PS thanks for not naming the "vicious mobster". I'm still afraid of him even though he has been taken off the 10 Most Wanted List and is safely inside a federal prison.

December 10, 2012  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I've seen references to the Australian Labor Party and assumed that was just American newspapers using the American spelling. What's the deal with that?

Good story, and set right in my old neighborhood. I used to live right off Broadway in Somerville.

December 10, 2012  
Blogger Dave Whish-Wilson said...

Ha, there's no U in Labor because of the influence of a big drinking, fast-talking and free-wheeling American, King O'Malley, one of the key figures in the founding of Canberra - "The ALP adopted the formal name "Australian Labour Party" in 1908, but changed the spelling to "Labor" in 1912. While it is standard practice in Australian English both today and at the time to spell the word labour with a "u", the party was influenced by the United States labour movement and a prominent figure in the early history of the party, the American–born King O'Malley, was successful in having the spelling "modernised".[9] The change also made it easier to distinguish references to the party from the labour movement in general.[10] Furthermore, the spelling "labor" had been acceptable in both British and Australian English in earlier periods.

December 10, 2012  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Is Australia celebrating the centennial of that confusing bit of political orthography?

I sort of figured there had to be an American in the woodpile somewhere. Thanks for the history lesson.

And remember: In the U.S., there's no "our" in "labor."

December 10, 2012  
Blogger Dana King said...

Added to my list. For a free blog, reading DBB sure gets expensive.

December 10, 2012  
Blogger Dave Whish-Wilson said...

Not to go on about it, but there was another American, Walter Burley Griffin, who got the full treatment. Invited over as a brilliant young architect, given free rein to express his vision for the new capital of an optimistic young country, he was kept on site for nearly twenty years (fighting a rear-guard action, while going mad) while public servants ignored his plans and built what they wanted. Worse still, when the centenary is proclaimed next year the hodge-podge that is left will be fully attributed to him...

December 10, 2012  
Blogger Kelly Robinson said...

I don't suppose I've read any Australian noir. Akashic hasn't done Sidney yet!

December 10, 2012  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Dana, I am honored to make a difference in even one reader's bank balance.

December 10, 2012  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Kelly, if Akashic ever does so an Australian volume, it might be devoted to Melbourne. For whatever reason, much of the country's crime fiction seems to be set there.

For some reason, I connected with a bunch of folks in Australia when I started this blog, so I've read quite a number of Australian crime writers. Some of them, including some of the stars, are in this collection.

December 10, 2012  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Dave, I wonder if we will note the occasion here in America, but it sounds like a good story. I did not know the U.S. had so much to do with Australia's odd capital and odd spellings. (It's no matter of national pride with me; I'm Canadian, so I grew up with "-our" and "zed.")

December 10, 2012  
Blogger R.T. said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

December 10, 2012  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

It has nothing to do with fiction. And I meant, at first, organized labor, but then I started to think that labor itself was under attack.
It's as easy to wish for labor unions' demise as it is to recite the misdeeds of the Teamsters. But I have seen (and been subject to) enough insane whims of ownership that I thank God I had a union representing my interests.

But you're right. In this age of trans-border capitalism, unions ought to do precisely what dinosaurs did. They ought to evolve into birds, agile and able easily to cross borders.

December 10, 2012  
Blogger verymessi said...

But you're right. In this age of trans-border capitalism, unions ought to do precisely what dinosaurs did. They ought to evolve into birds, agile and able easily to cross borders.

Great one, Peter.

I agree with you. With the gap between rich and poor at depression era levels the need for unions is as great as ever.

Globalization was always a goal of labor unions, just not the kind of globalization capital has in mind! That's what the International was all about. The wobblies and their kind got it right!

December 10, 2012  
Blogger R.T. said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

December 10, 2012  
Blogger seana graham said...

Very timely, considering events in Michigan. Labor is taking its hits right now. However, I do have to say that in America, everything ending in -our rhymes with sour. I'ts not a diminishment, it's a sound distinguishing kind of thing. Seems perfectly sensible to me.

December 10, 2012  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Verymessi: Thanks for the compliment.

It’s funny you should invoke the International and the wobblies because I’m no radical and am from a thoroughly middle-class background. By temperament I consider myself the very sort of cautious, liberal reformer that doctrinaire radicals would sneer at. So part of my belief in the necessity for unions stems from the least idealistic concerns possible: Even if a given union may be venal and stupid, labor needs a counterbalance against the venality and stupidity of management, something like the way the Founding Fathers of the U.S. sought to ensure that no group would have too much power. Again, I come to this belief not out of idealism but out of hard experience.

I also have some sympathy with companies that wants to move production where it’s cheapest. And that’s why unions or whatever replaces them need to do what they can to ensure than workers in the Banglasdeshes of the world enjoy basic rights and protections that I think anyone will agree they ought to have. And sure, that could take forms utterly different from Western-style collective bargaining (We wouldn’t want to be colonialist now, would we?), but it has to happen.

December 11, 2012  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I do have to say that in America, everything ending in -our rhymes with sour.

Seana, I’ve learned in recent years that our British friends pronounce dour to rhyme with poor. That would have a resonance of its own, I suppose.

December 11, 2012  
Blogger seana graham said...

I've never really known how to say dour, but it's not all that hard to avoid it.

In California, I mean.

December 11, 2012  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Right. I don't imagine California, at least North and South, has too many dour residents wandering about. Sour ones, either.

December 11, 2012  
Blogger seana graham said...

My mom was a lifelong Republican until she started working at a junior college and realized what the unions were about for the staff ther. She then became a staunch union supporter, which was good, because she was the victim of an age discrimination situation and benefitted from the necessary mediation.

That said, I don't myself work in a unionized industry. My life isn't bad, but there is a little too much reliance on the idealism and the altruism of the employers, which is somewhat naive.

Let's just say that the powers that be don't want to get rid of unions because they are ineffectual.

December 11, 2012  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Seana, I would be happier if the book industry were more like your store. But if I were working for a chain, where I could not rely on benevolence on the employer's part, I'd sure as hell want a union protecting my interests.

One can't rely on the Ghosts of Christmases Past, Present and Future to mitigate the effects of employers' malevolence. Some Bob Cratchits need a union when they can't rely on a benevolent Scrooge.

December 11, 2012  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

R.T., no, I’m not that kind of union guy. In fact, I’m probably just scared of Teamsters as you are. But thinking that all unions are like that and must by definition be like that is no more helpful than saying capitalism is bad, without elaborating. Sure, Teamsters have a history of violence and corruption, and sure we’ve all heard the stories about unions that require three men to do the work of one.

But I’m talking about unions for, just to choose an utterly random example, employees of a newspaper whose former owner had zero experience in the business and who quite understandably thought that staff must be cut from the fat days and quite understandably said that new ways of presenting and promoting the product were essential in this digital era, only was a hell of a lot better at cutting fat than at solving the digital problem, or even offering a single idea on how to solve it. You need unions as a buffer between mad clowns like that and his employees.

December 11, 2012  

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