Friday, July 2, 2021

Good for mittens, scarves and, yes, garroting


     July. Peak summer, at last. A long holiday weekend ahead. Escapist book season is here. What are you reading, and why?
     Being a journalist, books are constantly pitched at me. Most are easily allowed to fly past without swinging. “This book is a must-read for all who want to understand the current crisis of identity and the importance of reaffirming European and in particular Swiss democratic traditions...”
     But “On Skein of Death” by Allie Pleiter caught my attention, for two reasons.
     First, it’s a mystery set in a yarn shop. You might recall that five years ago, staring into the abyss of the Donald Trump presidency, I took up knitting, hoping it might be a distraction from the gathering disaster.
     Knitting proved harder than expected and I soon gave up. But not before several visits to Three Bags Full, the local yarn store, which seemed a perfect setting for a mystery. That might require some explanation. Whenever I visit a cactus show at the Botanic Garden, I amuse myself imagining that the quiet, pale succulent society members, when not in public hovering over their beloved prickly pears and saguaros, are privately at each other’s throats, riven with conflict, betrayal and death. Something like that.
     Second, the author lives in a western suburb.
     Pleiter grew up in New England, came here to go to Northwestern, as a theater major, then ended up in fundraising. She started writing professionally on a dare.
     ”The bulk of my career is in category romance,” said Pleiter, who has written 50 books and can have four in the works at any given time. “I’m such a passionate knitter. I’ve been putting knitting characters in my books for years. It’s part of my brand.”
     A yarn company was looking to start a knitting-based mystery series.

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  1. Interesting story (used to do some knitting myself, got a nice sweater out of it). One note: it's Scott Turow, with one 'r'.

  2. Not exactly a "must read" endorsement, but I betcha "On Skein of Death" will get a spike on Amazon for the next few days.


    1. Seems like a pretty solid endorsement to me, not that I'll be picking it up. I have to imagine that this author is pretty fricking dee-lighted. The chances that sending Neil this book would result in an actual column in the newspaper -- at all, let alone as favorable as this one -- seem about as slim as a length of yarn, to offer a lame analogy. I don't know how many books it will sell, but it'll be more than the one about Swiss democracy garners!

    2. Well, I ordered my copy of Allie Pleiter's opus this morning. Who knows what that will lead to? I got started on Anthony Trollope because of \ Neil's review of Phineas Finn, which wasn't unqualified admiration, and ended up reading most everything Trollope wrote, all for $2.49 on Kindle.


  3. I just finished The Plot, by Jean Hanff Korelitz. I enjoyed it, and as it’s about writers, you may like it even more. Although most of the portrayals are not particularly flattering.

  4. I just finished reading Rising out of Hate which is Eli Saslow's book expanded from his WaPo article about Derek Black, the young man who was raised to take over the leadership of the Stormfront White Supremacist hate group web site (his father ran the site and the kid's godfather is David Duke). Derek renounced his upbringing in college in a public statement to the Southern Poverty Law Conference and is now a dedicated anti-racist. One of the most fascinating things about it, is I find myself doing comparisons between Derek's father and Donald Trump (Mar-a-lago is very close to where the family lives) and let me just say that Trump comes up on the short end of that stick (his father's joy in his child being better than him (before his rejection of his upbringing) and his inability to shake his unconditional love for his kid despite him publicly rejecting everything his parent's stand for are a striking contrast to Trump.)

    The real take away is that raising a child with huge support, a love of knowledge and thinking for oneself is a very bad way to raise a White Supremacist.

    Oh also the discussion of the father and David Duke's take on Trump is fascinating.


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