Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Sara Paretsky - Hardball

Host Angela Mann reports on Sara Paretsky's recent visit to Kepler's:

On this beautiful Sunday afternoon a relatively small but enthusiastic crowd came to hear Sara Paretsky speak about Hardball, the thirteenth mystery to feature detective VI Warshawski. When she introduced V.I. in Indemnity Only in 1982 she revolutionized the mystery world. By creating a female investigator who was as smart as she was tough, Paretsky transformed the role and image of women in the crime novel. VI is not easy to categorize. She drinks, she fights, breaks into houses looking for clues, but also cares about her clothes, sings opera along with the radio, and has a passion for social justice.

Not only has Paretsky’s own work broken barriers, she created Sisters in Crime, an organization that supports women crime writers, which earned her Ms. Magazine’s 1987 Woman of the Year award. The British Crime Writers awarded her the Cartier Diamond Dagger for lifetime achievement and Blacklist won the Gold Dagger for best novel of 2004. When you think about female detectives, you would always include VI in the list.

Sara started her talk about independent bookstores and how hard we had to work to keep them in our communities, having read the newspaper that morning about how people are now Napsterizing digital books. She went on to say that Barnes and Noble had a review of Hardball on their web site that compared her to Sue Grafton, saying that Grafton’s books always leave you feeling upbeat whereas Paretsky’s books are disquieting. She quipped that maybe if she lived in Santa Barbara rather than Chicago maybe she would be perkier!
She talked about Chicago politics, about working on a project for the homeless with Obama, and about the movie based on one of her books. About the problems of aging her characters and how she didn’t want any of them to contract a debilitating disease – and how her husband took a bullet for one of her characters when she thought his time had come! (Can you guess which one? OK, it was Mr. Contreras.)
Paretsky apparently drew on her own experiences as a community organizer during the summer of 1966 for Hardball. There’s a real sting to the anger of a black man who took care of a friend beaten to insensibility by racist cops – you could hear it in Paretsky’s voice as she read. She’s a fiercely intelligent, political writer and I for one am glad VI is back with yet another mystery to solve.

Here's Sara talking about Hardball here:

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