This week’s podcast is focused on crime and detective books—both fiction and nonfiction. First off,
we talk I monologue about Errol Morris’s A Wilderness of Error: The Trials of Jeffrey MacDonald and my recent Twitter fight with Joe McGinniss about this case, then we move on to talking about Wolf Haas’s Brenner and God and what makes this book (and detective books in general) fun to read.
I do apologize for the long diatribe about Joe McGinniss and Blind Vision, but after reading A Wilderness of Error and then coming across this article about the new trial, I
was am a bit enraged at the smarmy way McGinniss is using this situation to his own benefit. As I explain in the podcast, McGinniss seems incapable of acknowledging that his book is part of the dominant discourse about this case, and that Morris’s much more comprehensive investigation illustrates the way in which we tend to interpret ambiguous facts (or ignore totally them) to fit the discourse/narrative we’ve decided to believe in. I think that Morris’s book makes it very clear that regardless of innocence or guilt, MacDonald did not receive a fair trial and that this is a travesty of justice. For McGinniss to use this situation to try and shill his book is really gross. Not just because of the fact he refers to MacDonald’s 40+ year imprisonment following the murder of his wife and two daughters as the “#FatalVision hearing,” but because it seems like he’s much more concerned with being “the truth” about MacDonald’s case rather than acknowledging that the man deserves a fair trial in one of the most compelling and strange mysteries of the past half-century . . .
/no more drunken tweeting
Anyway, this week’s music is In a Big City by Titus Andronicus—the best song from their new album.
Reading a genre book—whether fantasy, science fiction, crime, thriller, etc.—which begins to seem excessively, stereotypically bad, I have to make sure to ask myself: is this parodying the flaws of the genre? Usually, this questioning takes its time coming. In. . .
The Sicilian Mafia has always been a rich subject for sensational crime fiction. The Godfather, Goodfellas, and The Sopranos worked the mob’s bloody corpses and family feuds to both entertainment and artistic value. Giuseppe di Piazza’s debut novel attempts this,. . .
Antoine Volodine’s vast project (40 plus novels) of what he calls the post-exotic remains mostly untranslated, so for many of us, understanding it remains touched with mystery, whispers from those “who know,” and guesswork. That’s not to say that, were. . .
It hasn’t quite neared the pitch of the waiting-in-line-at-midnight Harry Potter days, but in small bookstores and reading circles of New York City, an aura has attended the novelist Elena Ferrante and her works. One part curiosity (Who is she?),. . .
From the late 1940s to the early 1950s, Egypt was going through a period of transition. The country’s people were growing unhappy with the corruption of power in the government, which had been under British rule for decades. The Egyptians’. . .
Miruna is a novella written in the voice of an adult who remembers the summer he (then, seven) and his sister, Miruna (then, six) spent in the Evil Vale with their grandfather (sometimes referred to as “Grandfather,” other times as. . .
Kamal Jann by the Lebanese born author Dominique Eddé is a tale of familial and political intrigue, a murky stew of byzantine alliances, betrayals, and hostilities. It is a well-told story of revenge and, what’s more, a serious novel that. . .
While looking back at an episode in his life, twenty-year-old Taguchi Hiro remembers what his friend Kumamoto Akira said about poetry.
Its perfection arises precisely from its imperfection . . . . I have an image in my head. I see. . .
The central concern of Sorj Chalandon’s novel Return to Killybegs appears to be explaining how a person of staunch political activism can be lead to betray his cause, his country, his people. Truth be told, the real theme of the. . .
Spoiler alert: acclaimed writer Stefan Zweig and his wife Lotte kill themselves at the end of Lauren Seksik’s 2010 novel, The Last Days.
It’s hard to avoid spoiling this mystery. Zweig’s suicide actually happened, in Brazil in 1942, and since then. . .