A blog dedicated to reviewing crime novels published by independent presses everywhere.
Friday, October 30, 2009
Blogging the Black Lizard Anthology of Crime Fiction: Soft Monkey
It has been quiet around here for a while, mainly because I have been busy reading James Ellroy and Flannery O'Connor. They're two very demanding, but very different, writers who've taken up a lot of my time and energy. (Especially Ellroy. I've been plugging away at Blood's a Rover for a while now, and I'm not sure I'm getting anywhere.)
Nevertheless, I found time to read the next story in The Black Lizard Anthology of Crime Fiction. I've read Harlan Ellison's "Soft Monkey" before, but I'm not sure where. I vividly remember it, and I remember it's preface about scientists who found that orangutans who are greiving the loss of a child will cling to a soft doll, and treat it as if it were alive.
The preface wouldn't be all that problematic if the main character of "Soft Monkey" weren't a mentally ill, homeless black woman. I don't attribute any racist intent to Ellison, but there's a rather long, disturbing history of comparing black people to apes that he should have been aware of or acknowledged. The only racist thoughts are in the characters who are trying to kill Annie, the protagonist, a woman who has had a psychotic break after losing an infant child. Annie is targeted for death after witnessing a mob hit, but there's something about this story that still kind of rubs me the wrong way. I'm not sure what it's getting at. I suspect Ellison was trying to get at the bond between mother and child and animal and beast, but I think he might have found a better way to get at it.
Welcome to the Indie Crime Blog. As the name implies, this blog is dedicated to reviews of crime fiction published by independent presses. There are many books published every year that seem to be ignored for a variety of reasons. The books sections of newspapers are getting smaller. Bookstores give more shelf space to more established authors. I could go on, but you get it.My intent is to review books both old and new in the hopes that some deserving writers and worthy publishers will gain some exposure. I can be emailed at IndieCrime-at-gmail-dot-com