PRIDE: The advance reviews of Lee Goldberg’s new novel,THE MAN WITH THE IRON-ON BADGE, are spectacular, impressive, praise-packed, and uplifting. Well, perhaps not as uplifting as that new high tech bra from Victoria’s Secret displayed on well-endowed billboards all over Los Angeles, nor uplifting in the gag-reflex manner of the umpteenth "CHICKEN SOUP FOR THE …" compendium, but uplifting in a positive pride inducing manner. Lee is my nephew, and he’s been crafting clever capers and witty literature since childhood. His brother, Tod, is also a professional writer with a new collection of short stories, SIMPLIFY. Their sisters,Linda and Karen, also have a book forthcoming, and a family tour trading on the media-worthy novelty of four siblings in print. Of course, their brilliant author uncle Burl has a book forthcoming as well, but it is only coming out in Japan (in Japanese). Happily, my true-crime publisher, Pinnacle (part of the Kensington Publishing Group) keeps re-releasing my previous books with two additions to the covers (1) the designation "TRUE CRIME CLASSIC" (2) a price increase.
Right now, Lee and I are both missing THE WORLD MYSTERY CONVENTION in Chicago. This is the 3rd year I’ve missed it, and I really wish I were there. Known as BOUCHERCON, this is the BIG CONVENTION for mystery fans to meet their favorite authors. This is a convention that is intentionally "fan based" — or was intended as "fan based" in its conception. Lee wrote an excellent statement on why he likes BOUCHERCON, and I share his view.
I go to Bouchercon as a mystery fan first and a mystery author second. I love buying books. I love meeting the authors I admire. I love meeting people who’ve read my books and have enjoyed them. I love discovering new authors and new books to read. I love getting all those free books in my book bag. But most of all, I love the camaraderie of fellow writers, talking shop and learning from shared experiences….It’s not Bouchercon that I’ll miss this year, it’s the authors and readers I won’t get a chance to see. And the books I won’t buy.
PREJUDICE: The current mounting tide of insane prejudice against Muslims is horrific. American Muslims outnumber Christian Scientists, Unitarians, Seventh-day Adventists, Quakers, Mennonites, and Jehovah’s Witnesses combined. The American Muslim population is also larger than that of the Presbyterians, Episcopalians, Methodists, and the Mormons. Now that Islam has replaced Judaism as the "minority religion to hate" in America, we can see that the level of prejudice in the good ol’ US of A is just as repellent as ever. Even the flood in New Orleans is being used as an excuse to insult and defame fellow American citizens on the basis of religious affiliation. The latest smear campaign is the nonsense that no Muslim has given a donation to help the victims of the New Orleans tragedy. I was not aware that donations to relief organizations required reporting of ones religious affiliation, and that an accounting was made based on your method of worship. Strange thing is, of course, that the same people who rant and rage against those who embrace the Faith of Islam are also big fans of famed boxer Muhammad Ali, basketball legend Kareem Abdul Jabar, and think Queen Noor of Jordan is an exotic international Oprah.