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Letters 07-25-2016

Remember Bush-Cheney Does anyone remember George W. Bush and Dick Cheney? They were president and vice president a mere eight years ago. Does anyone out there remember the way things were at the end of their duo? It was terrible...

Mass Shootings And Gun Control The largest mass shooting in U.S. history occurred December 29,1890, when 297 Sioux Indians at Wounded Knee in South Dakota were murdered by federal agents and members of the 7th Cavalry who had come to confiscate their firearms “for their own safety and protection.” The slaughter began after the majority of the Sioux had peacefully turned in their firearms...

Families Need Representation When one party dominates the Michigan administration and legislature, half of Michigan families are not represented on the important issues that face our state. When a policy affects the non-voting K-12 students, they too are left out, especially when it comes to graduation requirements...

Raise The Minimum Wage I wanted to offer a different perspective on the issue of raising the minimum wage. The argument that raising the minimum wage will result in job loss is a bogus scare tactic. The need for labor will not change, just the cost of it, which will be passed on to the consumer, as it always has...

Make Cherryland Respect Renewable Cherryland Electric is about to change their net metering policy. In a nutshell, they want to buy the electricity from those of us who produce clean renewable electric at a rate far below the rate they buy electricity from other sources. They believe very few people have an interest in renewable energy...

Settled Science Climate change science is based on the accumulated evidence gained from studying the greenhouse effect for 200 years. The greenhouse effect keeps our planet 50 degrees warmer due to heat-trapping gases in our atmosphere. Basic principles of physics and chemistry dictate that Earth will warm as concentrations of greenhouse gases increase...

Home · Articles · News · Books · A stoner goes sleuthing in Wire to...
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A stoner goes sleuthing in Wire to Wire

Elizabeth Kane Buzzelli - July 4th, 2011
A Stoner Goes Sleuthing in Wire to Wire
Review: Wire to Wire
By Scott Sparling
(Tin House Books)
By Elizabeth Kane Buzzelli
Okay, Michigan’s in this book: Wire to Wire by Scott Sparling (Tin House Books).
Detroit. Hell. Traverse City. Charlevoix. Wolverine (not the real Wolverine, another Wolverine). So I get to review it. Here goes. Hold on to your seat.
Wire to Wire is called “a stunning homage to one of our most popular and enduring genres—the American Crime novel” by the publishers.
Oh yeah? Let’s just sink into this down and dirty mystery (?) with mean drug dealers and murdering creeps, with one stoned protagonist and his freight car jumping friend. Oh, and don’t forget the women—every single female character is dropped like mud on the page, for sex, for titillation, or to die. Their choice. Well, somebody’s choice.
A book of shadows—incomplete people. Michael Slater’s on a journey to find . . . something. Never sure what. First he gets zapped in the head with an electric wire someplace near Detroit and has this stunning ability to see things he shouldn’t be seeing; all kinds of things like ghosts and the past and maybe a hazy present. In the meantime he’s busy having sex dreams and flying high on drugs like Smiling O, little white pills marked with a curved line inside the letter O—a smiley face with no eyes—and rumored to contain equal parts of amphetamine and cornstarch and talking his man code that excludes all women readers on purpose.
Maybe a woman shouldn’t be reviewing this book but I got the assignment so I’m treating it the way I’d treat any book—any purported mystery—and go looking for story and characters I might identify with, and the setting—the real Michigan that doesn’t just pop out of some drunken dream.
Here comes Northern Michigan. Hope you recognize some of these facts:
“In fact, half of white northern Michigan was on relief…”
Northern Michiganians are “all lost souls and losers...”
They’re all “people smiling and hiding their teeth.”
Just a “bunch of idiots.”
How about: “If you’re seeking a pleasant peninsula, you’re about a hundred years too late.”
And those are the nice things.
We get into the story, eventually, and Slater doesn’t quite kill a horse-murderer who needs killing (sending Slater up in my estimation because I firmly believe in justice), though somehow the guy didn’t die and was free to pursue Slater (ahh, mystery at last, the avenging bad guy). So Slater’s free of the Sonoran desert where he’s gone to some kind of odd rehab that surely didn’t take, and off to Michigan and Wolverine (which isn’t the real Wolverine, remember, because you can see the Sleeping Bear from this Wolverine).

FREEZER FULL
Lots of characters to get to. We’re at the bottom of the food chain here. We’ve got crooked undersheriffs and drug dealers and prostitutes and sleazy dancers. The women are interchangeable and might as well all be known as ‘Tit’ since that’s what connects them (which does bring up an odd, motherly, visual).
Then there’s a freezer full of dead women, and let me see—oh yeah, they’re all ‘the spreadables’ anyway, for obvious reasons, and totally interchangeable.
But let’s not leave our main character for too long. He’s been busy—seeing his ghosts and visuals of life, and bedding his best friend’s girl, and doing his drugs and wondering why life is so bad.
Does this book make me mourn the death of the old ‘noir’ stuff: the sex and drugs and little story stuff? Not on your life.
By page 209, I’d had enough. I found myself hoping for a meteor strike on this putative Wolverine and wishing that electric wire in Detroit had been a little lower.
I think I’m hopping a freight train for Oregon, where this writer is from, and do a little looking around out there while on Smiley O’s and Quaaludes and see if Oregon’s got any decent people who live ordinary lives. Doubt I’ll find any.
Stunning? Yes, but for all the wrong reasons. I thought they stopped writing books like this a long time ago. For darned good reasons.

Scott Sparling will sign copies of his book on Wednesday, July 13, 5:30 pm at Mclean and Eakin Bookstore in Petoskey; Thursday, July 14, 6-8 pm at Horizon Books in TC; and Friday, July 15, 7 pm at Brilliant Books in Suttons Bay.

 
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