Alison Clement

observations from a novelist who sometimes wants to say something small and see it published immediately

as if simple pleasure is not enough

film_noirI like detective stories. Henning Mankell says that character is revealed in moments of crime, or something like that, and he uses his detective novels, many of which are also films, to talk about politics, too. Which makes me feel better about it, as if simple pleasure is not enough. I’ve watched all the Scandinavian crime TV shows on Netflix. The cops hardly ever carry guns. Fat old cops chase down young muscular criminals and catch them, somehow, through sheer force of will or authority. European cops often go right into people’s homes if the people are gone, and we don’t even mind because they are good. European criminals hardly ever think to say they want a lawyer. Usually detectives drink too much, but we don’t hold that against them unless they are female. If they are female, it’s troubling. We worry about them in a way we don’t if they are male, even if we are feminist and know this is illogical. When I read Donna Leon, I want my husband to be Commissario Brunetti, and I want to live in Venice. For a long time after the Supreme Court appointed Bush president, I only read detective novels. I wanted a world in which things got sorted out eventually, a world in which the bad guys lost, the good guys won, the truth prevailed.

Categories: Bush, films, media, politics, reading

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2 replies

  1. I seldom read crime novels, but right now I am reading John le Carré’s Smiley’s People. Since it about the secret service, I doubt that truth will prevail, and who knows who the goods guys are in this one. The secret agent who drank a lot is already dead in the first fifty pages.

    • When I was in Paris, I ran out of books to read and found, in a used bookstore in the La Vilette neighborhood, a copy of le Carré’s Secret Gardener. I liked it a lot. I usually try to resist comparing book and film versions, but I have to say that the book filled in many of the gaps left in the movie. Right now, I’m watching a mystery set in New Zealand, Top of the Lake- the director is Jane Campiom. Holly Hunter and Elizabeth Moss, my favorite Mad Men actress, are in it. The cinematography is gorgeous and the story is full of surprises. Unlike the Europeans, all these characters seem to have big guns. Unlike Americans, they don’t seem outraged by the idea of having those guns registered. Tell me how Smiley’s People pans out, Dick.

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