Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Reading about small town living

As awkward as it is for me to admit, when it comes to making a selection from the new fiction book shelf at my small town library, I instinctively reach for the male authored tomes first.

There is of course no logic to my bias, as female authors are vastly capable of sallying forth the goriest and glorious of my favorite gumshoe genre tales.

In my failed attempt to live my life as unbiased as possible, this is the one illogical bias of luxury for which I plead the 5th on.

Sure, I've read female authors before. Plenty of 'em.

Faye Kellerman comes to mind. Evanovich, Grafton, P.D. and J.A., Paretsky, and of course the grande dame herself, Agatha Christie...I know the names and have often been tempted, but when push comes to shove my hand always reaches for a sleuthing male author first.

Again, no logic.

Stretching my male chauvinist gray matter, I can recall the last book I read that was scribed by a member of the opposite sex. Tulsa based author Billie Letts' selection from '04, Shoot the Moon.

There is some logic here. Letts is an Okie. And while some not familiar with the wiles and ways of our panhandled state may feel that reading books written by, about, and set in and around Oklahoman's is tantamount to punishment gluttony of the nth degree, I call it cathartic information gathering.

Research if you will.

Along this vein, I happened to grab this book off the new selection shelf the other day, tantalized by the title...Ghost at Work (A Mystery)

A quick perusal of the jacket summary revealed three things that eventually led me to swap this selection for the latest Ender Wiggin selection from Orson Scott Card that had found a comfortable (albeit temporary) spot under my left armpit.

Small town Oklahoma setting.
Paranormal detective.
Murder mystery.

Ms. Hart had me from page one and although lacking in the testosterone laced rhetoric that I normally find comforting in a gumshoe novel, following the antics of a crime solving card carrying member of the afterlife was a hoot and and a hollar.

Even found a quotable paragraph that reveals a small town truth penned in elegant Okie prose...
Everybody didn't know everybody, but if you had any prominence at all, you were known. Even more important was the fact that someone always saw you. It was that simple. No matter where you were or what time or with whom or why, somebody saw you. Ghost at Work by Carolyn Hart (pg. 55)

Did Agatha ever write a story that took place in Oklahoma? Hmmm, I wonder.


Malaise Inc said...

If you want to read another book about Oklahoma by an Oklahoman, and a female at that, I would recommend "Prairie City" by Angie Debo.

OKDad said...

Ah yes, the exalted Ms. Debo. One of Oklahoma's true genius minds.

I actually consulted on a screenplay that a little known writer from Poteau was working on awhile back and we traveled up to Marshall, OK to visit Ms. Debo's house.

This was before we had relocated here and a road trip around the state looking for sites related to Debo and her writings was an education in and of itself.

Alas, the screenplay was completed but to my knowledge, has never been sold.

Good rec M.I.