The word from Our Beloved Supervisors in the Twin Cities today is, “Stay inside. Do not attempt any strenuous work out of doors. The temperature is too high; the ozone level up in the Oh! Zone.”
I defied that advice, rebel that I am. In the first place the temperature was lower than expected, only a little over 80. Also my walking schedule has finally gotten me to the level where my body (like a dog) actually expects and wants its daily walk, and is disappointed if it misses it.
The humidity level was in Jacques Cousteau territory. I thought breathing was a little difficult too, but that was likely psychosomatic. Is ozone really dangerous to breathe, like cigarette smoke or something? Am I going to die now? Maybe I should just take up tobacco.
It says much about my psychological disorder(s) that, although I’m essentially very lazy, I judge a good or bad weekend by what I’ve accomplished. By that standard, it was a pretty good weekend. I mowed the lawn. I mopped the bathroom. I waxed Mrs. Hermanson, my car. And that was all on Saturday. On Sunday I did precisely nothing, as is my preference, except for church and reading. I shall now tell you about my reading.
No full reviews on these, just observations.
I finished Michael Connelly’s Echo Park. It’s another Harry Bosch novel, and a strong book in a dynasty of strong books. Harry is back with the L.A. police department now, working the Cold Case unit. A serial killer is arrested with human body parts in his van, and he confesses to a series of murders, including one that Harry worked on back in 1993, when it was new, and has been revisiting from time to time ever since. The problem is that Harry has been certain from the first that somebody else murdered that particular victim. And Harry is told that he missed a vital clue back in ’93, one that could have saved a number of lives if he’d followed it up. There’s an escape, cops are murdered, and Harry works two puzzles at once.
There’s nothing cheerful in a Harry Bosch book. Harry lives in a dark, confused world, where doing right (and Harry always tries to do right—that’s part of his problem) isn’t always the same thing as following the rules. Harry gets the job done, but there’s always a cost.
I also read an oldie, Robert Crais’ Lullaby Town. I like Crais better with each book of his I read. In this story, L.A. private eye Elvis Cole is hired by Peter Alan Nelson, a powerful Hollywood producer (whose characterization is deftly kept just this side of parody) to locate his ex-wife and son, who left him years before and simply dropped out of sight.
Elvis has to travel far from home to find the two, and when he does he discovers a desperate situation that calls for swift and forceful action. Needless to say, he brings in his dangerous partner, Joe Pike, but the real delight of Lullaby Town is the character arc traced by Nelson, the movie producer, as his family’s danger gradually forces him into a strange new territory known as The Real World, and how he begins to grow up as a man.
I think we lose a lot in contemporary storytelling through the abandonment of belief in objective truth. When you believe that there is an actual “thing” out there called Truth (or Goodness), then you can believe that everyone has an obligation to it, and you can root for them as they approach it, or sorrow for them as they move away from it.
When you believe that everybody makes his own truth, your rooting for a character is only a function of your personal taste (and his). It’s a game without a fixed goal. It’s pointless.
I don’t know if Crais had that kind of lesson in mind, but that’s what I drew from Lullaby Town, and it was very satisfactory to me.