But I know what is wrong,
And I know what is right.
And I’d die for the truth
In My Secret Life.
Leonard Cohen, In My Secret Life
When they hear I have a blog most people who know me in real life assume it is a political one. They are bemused when they learn it isn’t. I don’t blame them. I’ve been talking about politics since…well…forever. It’s what my family did around the dinner table.
I’ve been an activist too. I’ve stuffed envelopes, passed out how-to-vote cards, cooked democracy sausages and driven people to polling stations. In what is either enlightenment or lunacy (depending on your point of view) I don’t have a party affiliation (in fact I’ve volunteered in some capacity or other for candidates from four different political parties over the years) but I have always been interested in people who have great ideas.
My choice to blog about a different passion – and to keep the subject matter very focused – was quite deliberate. I found that you can – or at least I can – actually have too much political discussion. It’s been good for me to have a space to discuss more genteel subjects. Like murder.
And I’m not really going to change that now. I promise this post will be a single aberration.
But like much of the world, political discussion has been dominating my life of late, though in one way not as much as I’d have liked. I can’t really put into words how much I have missed my mum, who died in August last year, these past few months. Missed the conversations we never got to have about the bizarre American election season just ended (sorry to my American friends and family I don’t mean to be rude and I’m not having a go at one side of the spectrum more than another but, at least seen from this distance, it’s been like watching a largely incomprehensible circus). Of course I have discussed it all – endlessly – with other family and friends galore but it’s not quite the same. On Wednesday as I watched the US election results unfold – during a highly unproductive work day here in Australia – I kept thinking of points and issues mum and I would have discussed, and/or argued about. Annoyingly I had tears in my eyes at one point and some numpty walked into my office and assumed I was upset at the result. I didn’t feel like telling them I was in the middle of delayed grief so now that person thinks I’m slightly deranged. Sigh.
One thing my mum and I would do at the end of an election campaign, especially one where we were on opposite sides of the political spectrum which happened more often than not, would be to revert to our other shared passion. Reading mysteries. And though I’ve not more than a page or two for a week now I’m determined to get back on the horse tonight.
As my blogging friend Mrs Peabody suggested earlier this week there’s probably two kinds of crime novels to look out for right now: respite crime (the cosier stuff that lets you escape reality for a bit) and gritty crime that explores the political and social themes that are playing out in the real world. Each kind has its purpose but I think I’ve found one that’s a combination of both.
Sulari Gentill’s GIVE THE DEVIL HIS DUE sees the series hero, Rowland Sinclair, taking part in a car race but the dead bodies are not on the race track. I’ve already read this once in print but I downloaded the newly released audio version this morning. Readers of my other blog will know I am a huge fan of Sulari’s work and it does feel particularly pertinent now. Set in the 1930’s the books, including this one, feature characters from a range of social and political strata who manage to rub along together, learning from and listening to each other. Couldn’t we all do a little more of that? The series also explores the rise of fascism and how difficult it was to draw people’s attention to what was happening in Germany at the time. And no I’m not suggesting that the new President-elect is some modern-day Hitler but I do believe that ensuring evil acts are not allowed the cover of darkness is our collective responsibility and I will take my lessons in sensible activism wherever I can find them.
There has been much written and said in reaction to this week’s events. I know because I’ve spent way too many hours down internet rabbit holes, But my favourite – for all manner of reasons – is comedy show Saturday Night Live’s singularly unfunny opening to its November 12th episode.
Let’s all agree to never give up eh?