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April 2017

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whatever happens

More randomness:

I was upset by the way the press handled the deaths of two authors recently. I understand it, but I loathe it as typical of the greed philosophy of this country. One author was Michael Crichton, the other Tony Hillerman. And since most of you are probably going, "Oh yeah, Crichton, I've heard of him. Tony who?", you illustrate the reason for the uneven press coverage. I know that worth is rarely rewarded in this life, but that doesn't mean it doesn't bug me.

Yes, I'm taking it personally. Crichton was a hack. He was a good hack who came up with interesting story ideas and plots, but he was a lousy writer. (Sorry if I am offending any Crichton fans.) He had no beauty of language, not even the beauty of simplicity. His pacing was uneven, dammed by huge blocks of narrative that showed off his research. And his characters had all the depth of pizza delivery boxes. His books made good movies precisely because a movie script must cut all unnecessary garbage and because actors can add depth to a character with their skill.

Hillerman, on the other hand, was a wonderful writer. For those of you unfamiliar with him, he wrote mysteries set in the Four Corners area, with two Navajo policemen as heroes. Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee were fully realized, developed characters that a reader could enjoy being with, and Hillerman didn't neglect minor characters. His plots were good, and he moved through them with a pacing that, in the same way as his Navajo setting, was unhurried yet got to the point. His narrative blocks were short and added to either the atmosphere, the plot, the character development, or any combination of those.

As a reader, I've had no trouble setting aside and, in some cases, not even finishing a Crichton novel, but with Hillerman, when I pick one up (and I have read all his books at least twice), I smile and prepare myself to wallow in the pleasure of his writing.

But only one, really bad, movie was ever made of any of Hillerman's books, while many pretty good movies were made from Crichton's, and we are a Hollywood society.

Therefore, I am doing my tiny bit to try to make more people aware of the loss of Tony Hillerman.


On an entirely different note, I heard a story about a (white) guy who joined some of his hunting buddies and said, "Get yer guns, boys. There's a coon in the White House."

*sigh*

You tell me how that person differs from the Black Panthers who provided "security" for polling places in Philadelphia? Answer: No difference.

And on the other side of the coin, some blacks led a protest because a small town newspaper in Oklahoma did not publish the election results. However, that particular newspaper was not the kind that publishes current events, it's the kind that sticks to purely local news. Their decision was consistent with the history of the paper, and the fuss was all politically motivated in the worst sense.

If nothing else, the election of Mr. Obama is going to strip the lid off the racism - on all sides - in this country, expose it, drag it from the shadows, and maybe force us to address it in the bright light of objective truth.

OK, so call me an optimist.

Comments

Well, some of us have heard of Hillerman, because my first response to your post was "OH-MY-GOD-TONY-HILLERMAN-DIED!!?!??!?" My mother read mysteries, and occasionally romances, rarely much else. She introduced her fantasy/sci-fi reading daughter to Dorothy Sayers and both Ellis and Elizabeth Peters, and Martha Grimes, and yes, Tony Hillerman. I think she passed The Blessing Way on to me in the 1970s, possibly in college, possibly in high school. It was in mass market paperback -- I don't think he was being published in hardcover yet. I don't have all his books, but I have a lot, having inherited a good chunk of her collection, and having added to it here and there over the years.

Rest in Peace...

(Anonymous)

I agree.

The world lost a wonderful, thoughtful, talented author when Hillerman passed away. His prose was beautiful and his stories interesting and provocative. His books were so well written when it came to the Navajo culture that several Navajo schools required the children to read several of his books.

So, I raise my glass to Tony Hillerman!
http://bookmarkattheu.blogspot.com/2008/10/i-raise-my-glass-to-tony-hillerman.html