Wednesday, January 14, 2009

An Amazing Author

An update: The exhibit on German POWs in Minnesota I wanted badly to see closed in November. But it still exists in traveling form, and I’ll go see it in March. I talked with the docent and he told me enough about it that I feel comfortable starting Buttons and Bones.

We’ve been getting serious about clearing out our storage room, and have found the best way to get at it is to bring some of the stuff into our own apartment where it keeps calling attention to itself (translation: we stumble over it) until it is handled. We had floor to ceiling bookshelves installed in our living room and are filling them with books from boxes in storage – or selling books we no longer want to keep. One book I intend to sell is possibly one of the worst novels written by one of the worst writers of the twentieth century: James Corbett. I discovered Mr. Corbett through a speaker and mystery fan, the late, great Bill Deeck. (Some of you out there are already nodding and smiling, I know.) Bill used to come to Malice Domestic, a short, plump, mild-mannered fanatical lover of mystery fiction. Once he was invited to give a talk on his favorite mystery author. In his mildest voice he gave one of the most hilarious talks I have ever heard. He declared he has discovered this amazing and marvelous author, James Corbett, who wrote back in the thirties. Corbett’s extraordinary talent for description – "He sat up like a full-blown geranium," was given as an example. His plotting devices were held up as shining examples – when Corbett’s hero was found flying in a slower model of airplane after a villain in a faster; Corbett merely switched the two planes in midflight. His lyric description of a beautiful woman – identical in novel after novel – were declared laudatory examples of economy. "You may laugh," declared Deeck in his most scholarly tone, apparently not noticing that we were helpless with laughter, "but I am prepared to argue that James Corbett’s talent is unparalleled in the history of mystery fiction." That is a true statement, and an example of the blindness of some publishers. The result of his talk was that vendors began seeking out and selling Corbett’s novels at premium prices. I was lucky enough to get one, called "Murder without Motive." But I’ve had my fun and now it’s time to sell this book to some other sucker – er, someone else prepared to admire the talent of this amazing writer.

I hope today’s entry is coherent. I’m down with a bug of some sort that has my digestive system singing the blues. I’m serious. Yesterday evening I had a lengthy and fascinating conversation with a man who has connections in the movie industry. He is going to read some of my novels to see if any might be salable in that arena. I sat as far away from him as I could without having him think me rude, but still had to keep apologizing for my hiccups and other noises. I took a pill with codeine in it before bedtime last night but the chorus continues this morning. If I could record the sounds, I’m sure I could sell the recording as an example of very modern music. I’d call it "Bubble and Squeak."


Betty Hechtman said...

Your post was definitely coherent and a good read. I hope you get rid of your bug quickly.

Julie (Chloe's mom) said...

All I can say is hie thee to a doctor if it lasts more than 72 hours, max. You know the digestive symphony is bad if the cat on you lap suddenly turns around and stares at your midsection. Feel better, okay?

Camille Minichino said...

Thanks for giving us something to think about, even in your ill state.
Take care!

Monica Ferris said...

Julie, actually, at one point the cat on my lap jumped down in alarm! LOL I feel much better today, the noise is down to the occasional grumble.