Letters 11-23-2015

Cheering From Petoskey While red-eyed rats boil fanatically up from the ancient sewers of Paris to feast on pools of French blood, at the G20 meeting the farcical pied piper of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue thrusts a bony finger at the president of the Russian Federation and yells: “liberté, égalité, fraternité, Clinton, Kerry--Obamaism!”

The Other Mothers And Fathers Regarding the very nice recent article on “The First Lady of Yoga,” I have taken many classes with Sandy Carden, and I consider her to be a great teacher. However, I feel the article is remiss to not even give acknowledgement to other very important yoga influences in northern Michigan...

Drop The Blue Angels The last time I went to the National Cherry Festival, I picked the wrong day. The Blue Angels were forcing everyone to duck and cover from the earsplitting cacophony overhead...

Real Advice For The Sick In the Nov. 16 article “Flu Fighters,” author Kristi Kates fails to mention the most basic tool in our arsenal during Influenza season... the flu vaccine! I understand you might be afraid of being the victim of Jenny McCarthyism, but the science is there...

Keeping Traverse City in the Dark Our environment is our greatest asset. It sustains our lives; it drives our economy. We ignore it at our peril. Northern Michigan Environmental Action Council (NMEAC) has submitted letters of concern to both the city commission and planning commission regarding the proposed 9-story buildings on Pine Street. We have requested an independent environmental assessment with clear answers before a land use permit is granted...

All About Them Another cartoon by Jen Sorensen that brings out the truth! Most of her cartoons are too slanted in a Socialist manner, but when she gets it correct, she hits the nail on the target! “Arizona is the first state to put a 12-month lifetime limit on welfare benefits.” That quote is in the opening panel... 

Unfair To County Employees It appears that the commissioners of Grand Traverse County will seek to remedy a shortfall in the 2016 budget by instituting cuts in expenditures, the most notable the reduction of contributions to various insurance benefits in place for county employees. As one example, the county’s contributions to health insurance premiums will decrease from ten to six percent in 2016. What this means, of course, is that if a county employee wishes to maintain coverage at the current level next year, the employee will have to come up with the difference...

Up, Not Out I would like to congratulate the Traverse City Planning Commission on their decision to approve the River West development. Traverse City will either grow up or grow out. For countless reasons, up is better than out. Or do we enjoy such things as traffic congestion and replacing wooded hillsides with hideous spectacles like the one behind Tom’s West Bay. At least that one is on the edge of town as opposed to in the formerly beautiful rolling meadows of Acme Township...

Lessons In Winning War I am saddened to hear the response of so many of legislators tasked with keeping our country safe. I listen and wonder if they know what “winning” this kind of conflict requires or even means? Did we win in Korea? Did we win in Vietnam? Are we winning in Afghanistan? How is Israel winning against the Palestinians? Will they “take out” Hezbollah...

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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).

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.

  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
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