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On Weapons

Thursday, March 29th, 2012

Shortly after publishing my third book, I met a private detective who came to a reading at Kate’s Mystery Books  outside Boston. The detective told me her practice is a lot like V I’s: she did homicide investigations for clients who were being railroaded by a judicial process that liked to pick on the first convenient African-American they encountered. She said she didn’t expect fiction and reality to march in lock-step, but there was one thing she thought I should change. In my early books, V I always had her Smith & Wesson with her. Kate’s detective told me that was a mistake.

Kate’s detective said that she herself owned a handgun, had a permit, was a pretty good shot, but she almost never carried a weapon, even though she routinely found herself in some of Boston’s crummiest neighborhoods and projects.

The reason? She said you unconsciously escalate conflict when you are carrying a weapon. It’s as if your unconscious mind is itching to pull the trigger. When she left her weapon at home, she said she found more creative ways to resolve problems.

I think of that advice often, and never more so than in the wake of Trayvon Martin’s murder. Whether a skinny kid in a hoodie really posed a threat to a big man in an SUV is something we may never know. But we can be pretty sure that if George Zimmerman hadn’t  been carrying a gun, he would have stayed in his SUV. Maybe the police would have come, maybe they would have roughed up a kid for wandering around a gated community while black, but Trayvon would still be alive.

Armies and governments follow the same psychology. Hard as I petitioned and prayed for peace in the run-up to our invasion of Iraq, I knew that once George Bush had deployed hundreds of thousands of soldiers and millions of weapons to the Persian Gulf, his trigger finger was itching so painfully that nothing would keep him from shooting first.

If George had kept his personnel and weapons at home and let the UN inspectors do their job, we would not have 4400 dead American service men and women, 31000 with terrible injuries, 110000 Iraqi civilians killed and many millions left homeless. We would have the $3 trillion we’ve spent on this war to use for schools, roads, and maybe even health care.

Unknown Soldier in Iraq

Unknown U.S. Soldier in Iraq

Right now, I think it’s a pretty hopeless battle to gain a modicum of control over weapons of destruction, mass or otherwise, in the United States. Every time you take off your clothes in the airport, remember that the NRA has battled relentlessly not just to allow George Zimmerman a conceal carry permit, but to make sure anyone on a terrorism watch list gets a free pass on owning and carrying a weapon. The Patriot Act puts more controls on looking at what we read than on what we shoot.

Toilet destroyed by concealed weapon

Toilet in Utah wounds man whose concealed weapon went off

Perhaps we will read more such uplifting stories in the future.

And state legislatures believe the only controls that should be legislated are on women’s vaginas. Cry, my beloved country.

 

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Sara Paretsky Day at the Chicago Public Library

Thursday, March 15th, 2012

The Chicago Public Library declared March 14 “Sara Paretsky Day.” They made a wonderful event of it, putting up posters in all the branches, and getting Mayor Rahm Emmanuel to issue a formal proclamation, which declared that V I Warshawski and I had made a major contribution to the city of Chicago and the world. It was very cool, and also a little embarrassing, because I know I’m also the person who nags my husband and doesn’t always hang up my clothes or who cruises the Net when I should be writing.

Harold Washington Library

Inside the Chicago Public Library

Here was the best part: John Mahoney and Amy Morton from Steppenwolf did a staged reading of the first chapter from Indemnity Only, the first novel I wrote. I can tell you that Amy Morton is V I Warshawski. The words sound way better when she reads them than when I write them, and I have a new fantasy, that I can persuade Disney to do a TV series and that she would agree to play V I.

Rick Kogan, who is the most generous and thoughtful interviewer I’ve known since the late great Studs died, did a Q & A with me on the stage, Steven Albert from the Court Theatre brought my husband and me and some friends drinks at dinner afterwards, and a good time was had by all.

My thanks go to Craig Davis and all the staff at the library, and to the publicity team at my publishers, G P Putnam’s, who worked together to make this wonderful event happen. And a big thanks and bow to Amy Morton and John Mahoney. It thrilled me to the core to share a stage with them.

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Name That Corporation!

Sunday, March 11th, 2012

Did the first Breakdown contest frustrate you because you had to be a U.S. resident with a Facebook page? Here’s your chance to enter and win no matter where you are on the planet.

World's craziest contests

You could be a winner

V I’s most important client is a man named Darraugh Graham. He played a central role in the novel Blacklist, and a major supporting role in Body Work. Darraugh is the CEO of a fuzzily-imagined conglomerate which I called “Continental United,” after doing a name search to make sure there was no such company.

Guess what? There is now a company called Continental United, the merger of those two big airlines. Rather than deal with lawyers and correspondence and all those time-consuming tsuris, I’ve decided to rename Darraugh’s company.

Darraugh is a good guy with impeccable manners. The company name needs to imply something international, but not be tied to a specific industry, since V I’s needs to get inside information about different industries changes from book to book.

Come up with the best new name for Darraugh’s company, and you will get a V I commemorative flashlight, along with a signed copy of Breakdown.

 

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