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.
The last five days of the eleventh-century Icelandic politician, writer of sagas, and famous murder victim Snorri Sturleleson (the Norwegian spelling, Snorre, is preserved in the book) make up Thorvald Steen’s most recently translated historical fiction, The Little Horse. Murdered. . .
We all know Paris, or at least we think we know it. The Eiffel Tower. The Latin Quarter. The Champs-Élysées. The touristy stuff. In Dominique Fabre’s novel, Guys Like Me, we’re shown a different side of Paris: a gray, decaying. . .
One hundred pages into Birth of a Bridge, the prize-winning novel from French writer Maylis de Kerangal, the narrator describes how starting in November, birds come to nest in the wetlands of the fictional city of Coca, California, for three. . .
At 30, the Mexican writer Valeria Luiselli is already gathering her rosebuds. Faces in the Crowd, her poised debut novel, was published by Coffee House Press, along with her Brodsky-infused essay collection, Sidewalks. The essays stand as a theoretical map. . .
Fantomas Versus the Multinational Vampires: An Attainable Utopia (narrated by Julio Cortázar) is, not disappointingly, as wild a book as its title suggests. It is a half-novella half-graphic novel story about . . . what, exactly? A European tribunal, Latin. . .
Marie NDiaye has created a tiny, psychological masterpiece with her Self-Portrait in Green. In it she explores how our private fears and insecurities can distort what we believe to be real and can cause us to sabotage our intimate relationships.. . .
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?),. . .