Saturday, January 3, 2015

David Adams Richards and Arthur Ellis

A little history. I was in Vancouver for a family crisis. (My family doesn't have reunions--we have crisis-management team meetings.) Anyway, there I was in my suicidal sister's apartment and I found a book on the bed (hardcover) by David Adams Richards: Mercy Among the Children. I picked it up and read it even though I have a love/hate relationship with Canadian literature. Mostly I love it but some of the contemporary writers make me nervous. David Adams Richards wasn't one. Mercy Among the Children was the best book I'd read in a long time. I was very impressed by my sister's literary taste.

Crisis over, I was packing to take the plane home and I gave the book back to my sister. She said it wasn't hers; she didn't know where it came from. I asked my brother. He said he thought it was mine and that's why he put it on the bed. To this day, we have no idea where it came from or why it appeared at that particular moment in our lives. All to say, the theme of the book had echoes for me with my own family. 

I put it in my suitcase and it now lives on my bookshelf as a keeper. 

I read most of D.A.R.'s backlist after that and felt I had made a literary discovery. Turns out he was already discovered. He is one helluva writer. Some readers feel his work is depressing. Bullshit, I say. Pull on your big girl panties and read like an adult. Good fiction tells us what we are and what we can be. He's not going to draw us a fucking map or lie to us on the journey. 

(Ack! My New Year's Resolution was to swear less....)

The point of this post is to say David Adams Richards has a book entered in the Arthur Ellis Awards for 2014 Best Crime Novel. The title is Crimes Against My Brother.

First, I can't wait to read it. Second, I can't believe my lousy luck. I entered THE RIVER BRIDE in that competition. Many, many incredibly talented Canadian mystery and crime fiction authors have entered their books in that competition. We freaking love the Arthur Ellis Awards given out each year in May by the Crime Writers of Canada. I didn't expect to win or shortlist but I entered because I'm a Canadian and I write crime fiction set in Canada. So ... yanno ... that's what we do. 

The highlight of 2014 could very well be that I saw my name on a list with David Adams Richards. It would be beyond the limits of my joy if our books made the shortlist. But if I won and he didn't ... then how could I respect the award? 

*snort* hilarious. but since we're thinking about it...

How could a genre author who owes so much to a literary master respect an award that beat out the master? I have no idea. I'd like to believe that for the jury there's no contest and D.A.R. smokes the rest of us. But there are criteria that I'm not privy to. There are variables as is the way with fiction and genre fiction in particular.

Maybe I'll just read his book and be glad to be a Canadian surrounded by outstanding Canadian authors who feed my soul. They don't get the national love they truly deserve. So this is me saying it: Thank you David Adams Richards for nursing me back to health with your books. 

a reader

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