Crime Novels and Misdemeanors

Quote of the Day: “I don’t know everything/But there’s something I do know…” –The Jacksons, “Show You the Way to Go”

Mass Appeal: So I was having that old art vs. trash debate about literature with a friend of mine the other day. He rarely reads anything published in mass market paperback format because, invariably, he tells me, “It’s just pop trash, bestseller shit that you buy to read on planes or beaches.” As an avowed fan of suspense thrillers and mysteries and the old-school “shopping-and-fucking” novels of grande dames like Jackie Collins and Judith Krantz, I couldn’t disagree with him that there’s a lot of junk that’s created for plane and beach-reading. But I also always find myself explaining that page-turning entertainment doesn’t always equal dumb trash. I try to explain to him that I’ve learned all about post-WWII middle-class American malaise from the mysteries of Ross McDonald. I tell him that Silent Joe by T. Jefferson Parker had such touchingly trenchant stuff to say about family connections, specifically between fathers and sons, that I found myself damn near in tears as the story raced to its finish. Don’t even get me started on the sheer breadth of vision regarding class, race and sex among black folks in the novels of Walter Mosley. That kinda perked his ears up. “Race?” he asked skeptically. “In a mystery thriller?” I didn’t say anything. I didn’t even nod. I just handed him a copy of a book called Tropic of Night by Michael Gruber, a Miami-based thriller that manages to blend Santeria, the Olo tribe in Africa, Afro-Cuban relations on the shiny southeastern coast of the Sunshine State, sex, spirituality, anthropology, motherhood, and some of the deepest and most revealing observations on American black-white relations that I’ve encountered in a long time into one of the smartest and most entertaining books I’ve read in a long, long time. While I’m waiting to hear back from my friend about it, I’m recommending it to all y’all. And I’m about to start Gruber’s new one Valley of Bones, which, like Tropic of Night, stars Jimmy Paz, the sexiest Cuban cop in Miami-Dade county.

The Big House: Blonde bombshell Janelle didn’t get voted out of the Big Brother 6 house last night, but she certainly is getting called out by The Smoking Gun…I wonder if evicted houseguest Michael (Janelle’s “beau” after, what, nineteen days in the house?) knows she has a record? Or the guy she broke up with (on the air!) to be with Michael? … Oh yeh, forget what I blogged the other day about Ivette being one of my favorites this season. At first she reminded me of my beloved Miami Beach. But now I realize she’s just a screeching harpie who should get evicted from the house as soon as physically possible…

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Shout-outs to the peeps for welcoming me to the blogosphere, as they call it, with open arms and mouths (that sounds weird but y’all know what I mean). I appreciate all the emails and the comments over the last two weeks of gettin this thing up on its feet. Thanks for bearing with a brotha…

That said…Next week at The SPB Q: In the first of a series called Insider Publishing, some writer friends of mine talk about how they found their agents; the launch of the monthly segment called “HUNG: Behind the Scenes”; the launch of SPB Fiction (an online novella about sex and the single writer/bloggist); and some other surprises, big announcements and, of course, the interviews. We don’t call it The SPB Q for nuttin’ yo…

See some of you at the Harlem Book Fair this weekend. Represent, kids…& if you can, check out Gordon Chambers and Marlon Saunders, two of my favorite singer-songwriters, each of whom will be doing a set of some of their scintillating soul music up at the Fair this Saturday…check back for times if you’re interested… Gordon at 12 Noon, Marlon at 3 pm

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