Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Laura Lippman

I’ve never written this kind of post and perhaps will never write one again, but I decided it fit here because it’s really about the growth of a writer.

This is not a book review, but I must say something about  Lippman's new book, WHAT THE DEAD KNOW.

I have not always been a fan of Lippman's writing. I read her first book and I think the second and dismissed her. She will tell you herself that her first five books aren't her best.

I kept reading the raves about her. The winning of all the prizes. I'd see special sections devoted to her in bookstores. I couldn't understand it and I began to hate her. I didn't know her, we'd never met. I hated her because I was jealous.

Then last summer we were on a panel together. I found her charming and bright and funny. I immediately got a copy of NO GOOD DEEDS, which I liked a great deal. It's a good book.

I was looking forward to WHAT THE DEAD KNOW and now I've read it. The novel is wonderful. Thinking back to that first book I'm astonished at how much this writer has grown. We all want to get better as we go on, but not everyone does. Some get worse.

WHAT THE DEAD KNOW is a great accomplishment. I almost felt that I was reading a different writer, but that's because she's written a novel that's taken her eleven books to get to this place. Practice, practice, practice. And I'd guess she's learned a lot from reading.

So, run, don't walk, to your nearest bookstore and get a copy of WHAT THE DEAD KNOW.

If Laura Lippman doesn't get a bunch of prizes for this I'll be astonished. And mad. I'm not jealous anymore. I'm delighted for her.

4 comments:

Sandra Ruttan said...

A refreshingly honest post Sandra. I agree - we all hope to get better and better and not everyone does. I heartily recommend Every Secret Thing and To The Power of Three as well.

Pamela Milkweed said...

That was pretty much my reaction when I read Every Secret Thing -- I couldn't believe that it was written by the same person who wrote Baltimore Blues.

So what's the lesson? Publishers need to support and nurture their writers, instead of unceremoniously dumping them after two books, which is the trend these days.

Laura Lippman said...

I like this post, too.

The only thing I would add is what Sandra was much too modest to say -- when we finally met, I made a point of thanking her for being a writer who inspired me, and helped blaze so many trails, for so many writers. No Sandra, no me. My hunch is that there are a lot of other writers who could say the same thing, but I won't presume to do that. But I will repeat -- without Sandra's work, both in young adult fiction and P.I. fiction, then there's no way I'm even going to begin my bumbling journey.

Jess said...

Thanks for posting about Lippman. I went to her website and followed the rabbit trail to an interesting radio interview. I plan to visit Books A Million this weekend and come home with a couple of Laura Lippmans. :)