Letters

Letters 08-03-2015

Real Brownfields Deserve Dollars I read with interest the story on Brownfield development dollars in the July 20 issue. I applaud Dan Lathrop and other county commissioners who voted “No” on the Randolph Street project...

Hopping Mad Carlin Smith is hopping mad (“Will You Get Mad With Me?” 7-20-15). Somebody filed a fraudulent return using his identity, and he’s not alone. The AP estimates the government “pays more than $5 billion annually in fraudulent tax refunds.” Well, many of us have been hopping mad for years. This is because the number one tool Congress has used to fix this problem has been to cut the IRS budget –by $1.2 billion in the last 5 years...

Just Grumbling, No Solutions Mark Pontoni’s grumblings [recent Northern Express column] tell us much about him and virtually nothing about those he chooses to denigrate. We do learn that Pontoni may be the perfect political candidate. He’s arrogant, opinionated and obviously dimwitted...

A Racist Symbol I have to respond to Gordon Lee Dean’s letter claiming that the confederate battle flag is just a symbol of southern heritage and should not be banned from state displays. The heritage it represents was the treasonous effort to continue slavery by seceding from a democratic nation unwilling to maintain such a consummate evil...

Not So Thanks I would like to thank the individual who ran into and knocked over my Triumph motorcycle while it was parked at Lowe’s in TC on Friday the 24th. The $3,000 worth of damage was greatly appreciated. The big dent in the gas tank under the completely destroyed chrome badge was an especially nice touch...

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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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