BOOK & BLOG
June 3, 2010
Book of the Week
Anyone who’s followed this feature knows that I’m a huge Robert Crais fan, so it won’t be any surprise that I thought Taken was great. In this episode in the career of Elvis Cole, the World’s Greatest Detective, Elvis is hired by a successful illegal alien to find her adult daughter, who has been missing for several days. Not only is Krista Morales out of touch, but her boyfriend Jack has also vanished. Krista’s mom is afraid to go to the police because of her illegal status, but fortunately she hires Elvis Cole to search. He’s quick to discover that something terrible has happened to Krista, and he and Joe Pike set out to find her and Jack. Joe calls in Jon Stone, another mercenary, to help in recovering the young woman. Taken probes into the world of illegal aliens and the people who smuggle them, and it’s a rough ride with a lot of brutality. But like all Crais novels, it’s absolutely worth reading. It’s worth noting that the humor which is such a feature in most of Crais’s books is notably lacking in this one, which is tense all the way through.
To make up for the shortage of one-liners in the Taken, Jenny Lawson’s book has an overflow. Let’s Pretend This Never Happened, a collection of essays by the noted Bloggess, is extremely funny. If I took meth, I’d write like this. Lawson, who grew up in extremely rural Texas, had what you might term a challenging upbringing, but she and her sister survived it (with a huge amount of humor), to become mothers in their own turn. Lawson’s husband Victor and her little daughter Hailey feature largely in the latter half of the book, and it’s certain that life with Jenny Lawson is always an adventure. I literally laughed until I cried.
Okay, I’m going to get some things off my chest. The people who really need to read this won’t read it, but I’ll do it anyway. I may sound grumpy. I may sound petty. I may sound miffed. So be it.
Don’t ask me how to get published. Do your own research. There’s tons of material on the web now, stuff that wasn’t available when I was in the market for such information. Read it all, learn the business, and start to network by attending conferences. There is no magic formula.
Don’t ask me to read your unpublished, unagented material. I can’t do that, for several reasons. But since those reasons are not obvious to a lot of people, I’ll explain. I can’t read unsolicited manuscripts from people who have not yet been published because later on a crackpot might accuse me of plagiarizing their material. No matter how hard you protest that you are not that kind of person and would never do such a thing, and no matter how much I might believe you, I can’t risk it.
Don’t offer me advice on the plot points in my books. Pretty much the same thing as above, with the added rider that so far I can concoct my own plot points. Maybe you would do it better than I do it. But my name’s going on the book cover, so I feel obliged to do it all myself.
Don’t tell me that I’ve written my characters wrong/changed them from one book to the next/forced them to do things they would never have done. I’m sorry that you’re disappointed, or angry, or tearful. But truthfully, I’m innocent on this one. I know my characters backward and forward. I created them. They are in a process of gradual revelation. Readers find out a little more about each character in each succeeding book. It’s like an emotional striptease.
Don’t ask me if I actually intended to include social commentary in the books. I did. My books are light on the outside, but there is a big undercurrent. At least, I like to think so. I’m no preacher. If you get it, good. If you don’t, have a great time reading the adventures of Sookie Stackhouse.
Thanks, all you readers. And now, back to our regularly scheduled cheerful time.
© 2012 Charlaine Harris