Letters

Letters 05-02-2016

Facts About Trails I would like to correct some misinformation provided in Kristi Kates’ article about the Shore-to-Shore Trail in your April 18 issue. The Shore-to-Shore Trail is not the longest continuous trail in the Lower Peninsula. That honor belongs to the North Country Trail (NCT), which stretches for over 400 miles in the Lower Peninsula. In fact, 100 miles of the NCT is within a 30-minute drive of Traverse City, and is maintained by the Grand Traverse Hiking Club...

North Korea Is Bluffing I eagerly read Jack Segal’s columns and attend his lectures whenever possible. However, I think his April 24th column falls into an all too common trap. He casually refers to a nuclear-armed North Korea when there is no proof whatever that North Korea has any such weapons. Sure, they have set off some underground explosions but so what? Tonga could do that. Every nuclear-armed country on Earth has carried out at least one aboveground test, just to prove they could do it if for no other reason. All we have is North Korea’s word for their supposed capabilities, which is no proof at all...

Double Dipping? In Greg Shy’s recent letter, he indicated that his Social Security benefit was being unfairly reduced simply due to the fact that he worked for the government. Somehow I think something is missing here. As I read it this law is only for those who worked for the government and are getting a pension from us generous taxpayers. Now Greg wants his pension and he also wants a full measure of Social Security benefits even though he did not pay into Social Security...

Critical Thinking Needed Our media gives ample coverage to some presidential candidates calling each other a liar and a sleaze bag. While entertaining to some, this certainly should lower one’s respect for either candidate. This race to the bottom comes as no surprise given their lack of respect for the rigors of critical thinking. The world’s esteemed scientists take great steps to preserve the integrity of their findings. Not only are their findings peer reviewed by fellow experts in their specialty, whenever possible the findings are cross-checked by independent studies...

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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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