Friday, December 02, 2005

Sue Grafton

Without intending to, I believe I've read most of Sue Grafton's short stories in the past few days. I got hooked. Then I started going through every anthology in the house. Way past time for a Grafton collection.

At the moment, her new novel is riding high on all the lists and the reviewers are fawning. Understandably. I've seen Grafton's style and substance anaylized from many different perspectives but I've never seen anybody state the obvious. She's just a damned good, which is to say first-rate, storyteller.

She's much more obersavant than many writers lauded for their seriousness. And she's much more plain fun to read than a whole Greyhound bus full of cliff-hanger specialists like James Patterson.

Her turf is the American middle-class. High end and low end. Her cases are never flashy nor are her investigative techniques anything fancy. She gives us perfectly composed snapshots of our time. She has a fondness for everyday folks that makes you like her and she never lets her villains get all Lectered up. She sees them for what most villains are--mean, greedy, selfish, often self-pitying jerks who put themselves in situations for which violence seems to be the only solution. Not Evil; but evil in the Hannah Arendt sense of the banality of evil.

There are few writers I'd nominate for lasting beyond their time. But I think Sue Grafton will be read well into the upper reaches of this century and maybe even longer. She's just too damned good to forget.

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