Wednesday, August 7, 2013
Games authors play
I don't get it. I can understand authors who live in a community playing games with place names and trying to establish a fair amount of daylight between their work and whatever inspired it, but when the author is a FIP* who falls into the summer people/occasional tourist category? Why not just call places by their proper names instead of making up ludicrous crap like "Coppermass"? It makes no sense for the author to call places like Matchwood, Topaz, and Bruce Crossing by their actual names and then make up something for White Pine and Silver City, especially when the fictional names are just a notch off the real ones (Lone Pine and Silverton, respectively).
Alternatively, if you're going to make up names, come up with ones that mesh with the way the other counties in Upper Michigan got named: pick something Ojibwe (e.g., Gogebic, Ontonagon) someone notable (Schoolcraft, Baraga, Houghton), or something mineral (Iron). But Porcupine? Give me a break. That's just laughable.
As for the overall quality of the book, although I'm not quite done with it, I think it's safe to say its merits fall right in line with the food at Merle's: mediocre but tolerable. There's a fair amount of condescension laced through his descriptions of the locals, he gets a lot of the local color wrong -- how he can describe a typical U.P. wedding reception and not include a mention of the old ladies doing the chicken dance is beyond me -- and the flannel shirts we Yoopers wear are Union Bay, not Pendleton (seeing Yoopers described as wearing Pendleton was definitely a WTF moment). I also found its basic premise to be highly implausible, but I've read worse. Would I recommend to other mystery buffs? Probably not. If this had been a book I'd made the mistake of purchasing instead of checking out from the library, I'd toss it into the St. Vincent de Paul box rather than pass it on to either of my daughters.
As for why the Poor Farm photo, it's the setting for the first chapter of the book.
[*FIP = fucking Illinois prick. One of the many things Kisor gets wrong. He calls them FIBs. As long as I can remember, those asshats with the Illinois plates have been FIPs in northern Wisconsin and the western U.P.]