Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Threadbare, Charlie Chan

December 10 is suddenly very close. That’s the pub date of Threadbare, the fifteenth Betsy Devonshire needlework mystery. I think it’s a pretty good story, about the murder of two homeless women. The murderer obviously thinks they were throw-aways, but they were people with dreams and hopes like anyone, and they had families who cared about them. It was interesting doing the research on the homeless. And sad. Some of them are people fate ganged up on, but others seemed to set out to make themselves homeless and no amount of intervention or aid could stop them.

I keep having to get out a bookmark listing the needlework titles and counting them, as I find it had to believe this is number fifteen. It didn’t seem all that long ago I was working on number seven. But number seven was Cutwork, and now I think again, that was a long time ago.

Meanwhile I’m still struggling with And Then You Dye, though it is moving, if reluctantly. I got a one-month extension of the deadline, for which I am grateful.

I keep a book on my headboard to read a little before I go to sleep. Right now I am reading a marvelous book: Charlie Chan, the Untold Story of the Honorable Detective and His Rendezvous with American History, by Yunte Huang, who was born in China and who is currently a professor of English at the University of California at Santa Barbara. I have loved the Earl Derr Biggers’ novels, which I read after enjoying the Charlie Chan movies, particularly the ones in which the title role was played by Warner Oland. I never thought of the Charlie Chan stories as racist – Charlie was brighter, more honest, and had more integrity than any of the other characters. Some of the other characters were racist about the Chinese and were always shown as seriously mistaken in their attitudes. The racist element in the later movies involved an irritating black caricature played by Mantan Morland, who played him as excitable, stupid and cowardly – nobody like him appears in the novels. Considering that these novels appeared at about the same time as the Fu Manchu stories, which were very racist, Charlie Chan is even more remarkable. What’s interesting is that Charlie Chan was based on a real Honolulu police detective named Chang Apana, whose extraordinary life story is told by Professor Huang in the first half of the book. I can hardly wait for bedtime to continue reading.

What are you reading right now?


Bella said...

Oh Threadbare sounds interesting!!

I'm reading The Long Quiche Goodbye by Avery Aames. I love it except for that it makes me crave cheese!!

Anonymous said...

Even though the comment is supposed to be about what we are currently reading, I just want to tell you how much I am looking forward to Threadbare. Having grown up in Robbinsdale, I especially like the Minnesota scenes.

Linda O. Johnston said...

Book number fifteen in a series? Wow, that's exciting, Monica. Congrats!! Homeless women sound like a fascinating theme.

Monica Ferris said...

It was very interesting - but disheartening as well. The problem seems intractable. Yet many of the homeless, as individuals, are nice people, friendly, intelligent, even hopeful.

Terri Thayer said...

Congrats, Monica. What a string of hits!

I'm reading a fictionalized version of the beginnings of PT Barnum from the point of view of the giantess. Its' called Among the Wonderful and it's quite a different view of the circus.

Anonymous said...

Good luck with Threadbare and with And Then You Dye. I have a question about something I asked you way, way back when I e-mailed you -- about Betsy's first marriage and how her first husband's kid from his second marriage seeks out Betsy for help. Have you given that idea any more thought? Just wondering.

JanG said...

I can hardly wait for Threadbare. The first 14 books have intrigued me from the start of the series, and not just because I've done a lot of crewel and needlepoint. Betsy has enough going on in her life to make her a good, complex character.

At the moment, I'm reading and thoroughly enjoying A Holiday Yarn by Sally Goldenbaum.