Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Three Authors

Peter over at Detectives Beyond Borders tagged me with the question, What three authors would you miss the most if they stopped writing?

Like most people, I'd have a tough time narrowing the choice down to three and lately it's been getting even harder. I was thinking about a blog post just yesterday, wondering if we're in a new golden age of crime fiction.

In 2006 I attended my first Bouchercon (and I'll be going again this year) and I met a whole bunch of writers; Mike Harrison, Robert Dugoni, Sandra Ruttan (in person!), Duane Swierczynski; I was on a panel with JD Rhoades, Brett Battles, Bill Cameron and Michael A. Black; I said hello to Lee Child, Gary Philips and Don (I have a problem with impulse control) Winslow and lots of others. When I got home I started reading books by people I'd met, and to be honest, I didn't expect to like many of them.

I liked them all.

Am I getting soft in my advancing years?

Since then I joined CrimeSpace and met Barbara Fister, Jon Loomis, Donna Moore, Linda L. Richards, Patti Abbott, Angie, and lots and lots of other writers and I've been working my way through their books. And they're all good.

What happened to the snarky, cynical hard to please jerk I was?

Last year I "met" online Declan Burke, Ray Banks and Al Guthrie, so I read their books and you know where this is going...

Pretty much all of these writers are younger than I am, so I'm looking forward to years and years of happy reading. As Barbara Fister says, "I'll read till I die and I still won't be finished!!"

So, it's a great time to be involved in crime fiction.

But to try and answer the question, I'm going to go with:

Elmore Leonard. Over the last forty years he has quietly laid down the history of a particular slice of America better than anyone else. What John Cheever did for suburban culture, Elmore Leonard does for the working-class. His books are some of the few American books to be truly multi-racial and completely honest. The last few books filled in the gap between his westerns and modern-day novels. Check out Glitz and Swag as two of the very best crime novels ever written.

Alice Munro. Not a crime fiction writer, not even a novelist, but the greatest short story writer ever. She has also chronicled an entire generation, one story at a time, digging deeper into human relations in a single short story than most novelists do in an entire career. Lives of Girls and Women and Who Do You Think You Are would have been a career right there, but she just keeps going.

Roddy Doyle. The Barrytown trilogy was a lot of fun, but The Woman Who Walked Into Doors, Paula Spencer and The Deportees are fantastic. What writing should be.

So, keep writing everybody. It really feels to me like we're just at the beginning of something special here.


Peter Rozovsky said...

Your experience with Bouchercon was similar to mine at NoirCon in Philadelphia. I met a bunch of writers (Christa Faust, Scott Phillips, Vicki Hendricks, Swierczynski, et al.), liked them, read them, and liked everything by them that I read.

Let's organize a crime-fiction convention in Whitehorse just so we can call it YuCon.
Detectives Beyond Borders
"Because Murder Is More Fun Away From Home"

Peter Rozovsky said...

Oh yeah, and Megan Abbott, too.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Seconded on Alice Munro. Close is William Trevor, Mary Lavin, Lorrie Moore, Andre Dubus. But Munro is tops for me.

pattinase (abbott) said...

P.S. You need to get this on crimespot so I don't forget to check in.

adrian mckinty said...

I've got one: JG Ballard. He's probably not going to see '09 the poor devil. Crash is such a great, funny, perverse, weird book. His philosophy is that there isnt too much violence in our lives but too little. Here we are top of the food chain savannah killers living desperate quiet suburban existences. As Pound said "the days are not full enough and the nights are not full enough and life goes by like a field mouse not even shaking the grass." Ballard's characters embrace the killer hominid within and explore their inner space, all in an attempt the shake the grass a little.

On a slightly different topic how about a list of authors we COULD do without. That would set the cat among the pigeons.

John McFetridge said...

Authors we could do without? yeah, sure, that wouldn't stir up any controversy at all...

The first JG Ballard I read was "Highrise." Great stuff. He may be right about that, "top of the food chain savannah killers living desperate quiet suburban existences."

Explains a lot, really.....