Sara Paretsky's Blog, page 3

February 12, 2014

Marilyn Stasio in the New York Times says, “There are plenty of women among…genre writers, but not many like Sara Paretsky…Critical Mass hits a nerve with its historical back story about a Viennese physicist, “a great scientist who had a gender handicap.”


Steve Bertrand talks to Sara Paretsky about Critical Mass and Chicago on WGN Radio


Randy Cohen’s creative show, “Person, Place, Thing” featured Sara in January 2014


And the Washington Post says, “Paretsky at her best, describing with a reporter’s eye and a painter’s vision the light and texture of a place. A scene that throbs with menace concludes with a shock.”


Share/Save

 •  flag
0 comments
like  • 
Published on February 12, 2014 09:03 • 49 views

December 23, 2013

Critical MassThe London Times calls it “A career crowning achievement.” The UK Tablet names Critical Mass “Best Book of 2013.”


Share/Save

 •  flag
0 comments
1 like · like  • 
Published on December 23, 2013 08:38 • 91 views

December 22, 2013

She was 21, he was 24, they’d known each other for three months when they decided to get married. They were both graduate students in bacteriology at Iowa State College in Ames. It was December 22, 1942 and they ran away to a neighboring county for a secret wedding: the laws of the time meant that one of them would have had to quit graduate school if they were married. The secret leaked out, as these things do. He had a draft deferment because he was working in a field with defense potential, but his thesis advisor, a man named Workman, was furious; he withdrew the draft deferment. A few months later the man was drafted. He did basic training in Georgia and shipped out in 1944. His first child, a boy, was conceived during his last home leave.


His wife spent the war years first with her inlaws in New York City, where she worked as a bacteriologist, and then with her mother in the small Illinois town where she’d grown up. He spent the war in New Guinea and the Philippines, although he later said the only action he saw was when the camp chef threatened him with a machete for suggesting the food in the mess hall be covered with fly screens. He wrote love letters home, quoting Homer in Greek as he tried to compare his wife’s beauty to Helen. The censors thought the Greek was likely military secrets and blacked out the poetry.


He finished his PhD, they had a second child, a girl, they moved to Kansas, they had three more sons.  The love that blazed like Helen and Paris charred and burned out and left behind an ashy bitter residue. They spent the last forty years of their marriage in a bitter and biting warfare. They ate each other up, they damaged their children, they drove away their friends.


Maybe that’s how Paris and Helen ended, too. We only hear the beginning of love stories, not their endings. If Romeo and Juliet had lived how would their love have fared during those bleak middle years, when Romeo was off testing himself in battle and government, and Juliet was home alone with the children. Would she have gotten fat, turned to alcohol, would he have come home to the carefully prepared meals and scowled that she didn’t cook the way his mother used to?


What’s the difference between love and infatuation, my granddaughter asked  recently. It all starts with infatuation, I said, you only know it’s love if it endures the nights of fever and vomiting, the times of helplessness and anger, if the person you are beneath Helen’s dazzling beauty or Romeo’s charm is someone you can accept.


It’s a melancholy day, this 72nd anniversary. They’re both dead now, those ardent lovers of 1942, their children struggle some days to put one foot in front of another. As the Song of Songs suggests, don’t awaken love unless you know what to do with it.


Share/Save

 •  flag
1 comment
1 like · like  • 
Published on December 22, 2013 16:56 • 101 views

November 29, 2013

And it came to pass that the Divine Justice heard that war was being waged on Christmas. Humans waged innumerable wars. They all called on the Holy One to support their battling sides in each war they fought, so much so that the heavenly host had put a block on all incoming war petitions. And so it was some time before news of the War on Christmas filtered through the ether to the Highest Throne.


The Holy One thought of the first Christmas, of a poor peasant woman going into labor on a bed of straw, like countless other poor women. Her fear, her pain, the terror on the face of her husband—would he lose his beloved? So much blood, her face pale, drenched with sweat, only a stable girl to attend her lying-in. The stable girl had birthed goats but never a human baby, but she sang to the laboring mother the same tuneless melody she used to calm her goats. And so the baby was born, healthy, and laid in straw next to his mother. The stable girl knew to boil comfrey leaves and place them on the mother’s sore and weary body. The family had no food and no money for food, so the stable girl milked her goats and gave it to the mother and father.images-4


Were humans fighting a war against this Christmas? Arch-angelic fact finders scoured the globe looking for evidence, and came back to the Divine Justice in a state of despair.


Poor women were still giving birth in dirt and squalor; they couldn’t feed their families, they didn’t have clothes or clean water for their children, they were raped and tormented, kept as chattel animals. Their men and boy-children were conscripted into armies or sent deep into mines with little or no protection or compensation. And the Herods of the current age, those with money and power, were taking what little food they had away from the poor.images-2


“We thought Christmas meant seeing justice pour down like waters; we thought Christmas meant giving humans a chance to fulfill Your Prophet’s vision, that You want humans to loose the bands of wickedness, to bring the homeless poor into their homes, to feed the hungry and let the oppressed go free.”


The Archangels confessed that they didn’t know what to do. “Your own Child dwelled among them once, with terrible consequences, but today’s Herods still want money and power more than they want Christmas. Today’s Herods demand that the poor work seven days a week to make enough money each year to pay for the owners’ private jets, ski holidays, gold and diamond baubles. Not to mention bizarre electronic gadgets beyond Archangelic comprehension. We have never seen such quantities of rich food in human homes as today’s Herods throw out, and yet among them, several billions live on the edge of starvation. Nowhere can the poor rest on the Sabbath or on holy days; they must labor without ceasing to increase the Herods’ profit margins.”


images-5


The Archangels broke down and wept, unable to look the Holy One in the face. “There is a war on Christmas, and Christmas has lost.”


dead-Pal-children


Share/Save

 •  flag
1 comment
1 like · like  • 
Published on November 29, 2013 07:29 • 147 views

November 21, 2013

And it came to pass that the Divine Justice heard that war was being waged on Christmas. Humans waged so many wars, and called on the Holy One to support their warring sides in all of them, that the heavenly host had put a block on all war petitions. And so it was some time before news of the War on Christmas filtered through the ether to the highest throne.


The Holy One thought of the first Christmas, of a poor peasant woman going into labor on a bed of straw, like countless other poor women. Her fear, her pain, the terror on the face of her husband—would he lose his beloved? So much blood, her face pale, drenched with sweat, only a stable girl to attend her lying-in. The stable girl had birthed goats but never a human baby, but she sang to the laboring mother the same tuneless melody she used to calm her goats. And so the baby was born, healthy, and laid in straw next to his mother. The stable girl knew to boil comfrey leaves and place them on the mother’s sore body. The family had no food and no money for food, so the stable girl milked her goats and gave it to the mother and father.


Were humans fighting a war against this Christmas? Arch-angelic fact finders scoured the globe looking for evidence, and came back to the Divine Justice in a state of despair.


Poor women were still giving birth in dirt and squalor; they couldn’t feed their families, they didn’t have clothes or clean water for their children, and the Herods of the current age, those with money and power, were taking what little food the poor had away from them.


“We thought Christmas meant seeing justice pour down like waters; we thought Christmas was going to fulfill your Prophet’s speech, that You want humans to loose the bands of wickedness, to bring the homeless poor into their homes, to feed the hungry and let the oppressed go free.”


The Archangels confessed that they didn’t know what to do. “Your own Child dwelled among them once, with terrible consequences, but these Herods still want money and power more than they want Christmas. Today’s Herods are claiming that the poor must work seven days a week to make enough money each year to pay for the owners’ private jets, ski holidays, gold and diamond baubles, not to mention bizarre electronic gadgets which we couldn’t begin to understand. We have never seen such quantities of rich food in human homes as today’s Herods throw out, and yet among them, hundreds of millions live on the edge of starvation. Nowhere can the poor rest on the Sabbath or on holy days; they must labor without ceasing to increasing the Herods’ profit margins.”


The Archangels broke down and wept, unable to look the Holy One in the face. “There is a war on Christmas, and Christmas has lost.”


 


Share/Save

 •  flag
2 comments
4 likes · like  • 
Published on November 21, 2013 16:52 • 405 views

August 8, 2013

We’re holding a drawing to give away two advance copies of Critical Mass. To enter, simply send an email to vicontests@mindspring.com


Critical Mass is partly set in Vienna during Lotty Herschel’s childhood, when Austria’s Nazi government forced her family to leave their apartment and share four rooms with twelve other people. Here’s a photograph I took in Vienna last summer of the entryway to the building where she lived in 1938-39 before she and her brother Hugo escaped to England.


Entryway to Lotty Herschel's building in Vienna

Entryway to Lotty Herschel’s building in Vienna


Share/Save

 •  flag
3 comments
3 likes · like  • 
Published on August 08, 2013 08:32 • 185 views

July 20, 2013

Critical MassV.I.’s newest outing takes her from drug houses to Vienna’s posh cafés. Critical Mass goes on sale everywhere October 22nd. Pre-order here.


Share/Save

 •  flag
0 comments
like  • 
Published on July 20, 2013 19:55 • 61 views

The British Crime Writers Association has longlisted Breakdown for the Gold Dagger. The award will be announced in October.


Share/Save

 •  flag
1 comment
like  • 
Published on July 20, 2013 19:55 • 82 views

I love Girls in the Game. Through my Sara & Two C-Dogs Foundation I support about ten programs, which range from  sending kids to Montana to dig for dinosaurs, through scholarships for young women musicians trying for their big break, to literacy for pregnant teens and teen moms. There’s a special energy and team spirit to Girls in the Game that always makes me peppier when I’ve spent a day with them.


Recently I was a guest coach to talk about how the media cover women and girls sports. We started by going through the daily papers from Chicago and New York to see what kind of news the Tribune, the Sun-Times and the New York Times thought women merited.


Girls in the Game studying the daily news, July 2013

Girls in the Game studying the daily news, July 2013


Girls in the Game Study the News. July 2013

Girls in the Game Study the News. July 2013


The answer: just about nothing. The young women were perceptive and careful readers. They found that all three papers had a story about a rookie with the Chicago Sky making the WNBA All-Star team. The Tribune had one sentence on a woman skier—not because of her athletic prowess but because of her sex life.


No one had a word to say about the Chicago Bandits. This is a professional women’s fast-pitch team. Since 2005 they have been National Champions six times and they are on track to finish at the top again this year. The  Cubs and White Sox  combined have won a total of one championship in those eight years, but they get a lot of full-page stories in both papers. My young women thought the Bandits ought to have received at least a little paragraph to describe their previous night’s victory.


Similarly, the Girls in the Game noted that the Sun-Times led with a full-page picture of Brian Urlacher. We all agreed he was a great player, but it isn’t football season and there are women playing sports right now who could use a little ink.


We talked about what we could do to change this story. I told them that when the Notre Dame Women’s basketball team was ranked #2 in the nation this past winter, I wrote both the Sun-Times and the Tribune sports editors (Chris de Luca (cdeluca@suntimes.com) and Tim Bannon (tannin@tribune.com), to see why they had not written a single word about the women all season long–while covering the rather mediocre men’s team with front-of-the-section stories. The Sun-Times didn’t think I merited an answer. The Tribune sports editor wrote back, without salutation, “Resources and an abundance of teams and events to cover.” None of which are female.


The United States sent a national football team (U.S. football) to Finland this summer to play in an international women’s football tournament. I only know about the event because I know one of the women in Chicago’s tackle football team, the Chicago Force; Elizabeth Okey was picked for the national team. I couldn’t find coverage anywhere on the Web for the tournament. By the way, Okey and other women have to buy their own uniforms and equipment. If she had her face on the front of the Sun-Times, maybe her team would start making enough money to buy equipment for Okey.


Elizabeth Okey of the Chicago Force

Elizabeth Okey of the Chicago Force


My young women suggested we all write to the newspapers, to express our interest in coverage of women’s sports. Since they get their news from television, they also suggested we write to our local TV stations to demand air time about women athletes. They thought about it harder. “We should go to women’s events at our high schools,” they said. “We should write stories about our women for our school newspapers.”


The Tribune recently ran a story saying how young women of color have not benefited from Title IX. This is a serious problem. It also represents the only major story about women’s sports the Tribune has run in the last 24 months. Until we start reading and seeing news about women’s teams, no one will care, because right now, no one knows women are playing sports.


Except the Girls in the Game. My team. They’re young, they’re energetic, and they’re ready to change the world.


Girls in the Game deciding on an action plan. July 2013

Girls in the Game deciding on an action plan. July 2013


 


Share/Save

 •  flag
0 comments
3 likes · like  • 
Published on July 20, 2013 12:40 • 104 views

June 3, 2013

Everyone knows that V I Warshawski is a Cubs fan, but it’s been a while since she went to the ballpark. For a book I’ve just started writing, I’m imagining a chase scene, down those nasty old corridors between the visitors locker room and the dugout, so I persuaded some friends to come with me for a tour of the park today.


Sara with Jo, Kathy and Louis

Sara with Jo, Kathy and Louis


The weather couldn’t have been more perfect, 65 under cerulean skies, and we had a lively and knowledgable guide, who gave us some fun facts about the field, and baseball history. Charles Weeghman, who built the park, was a restauranteur–he installed the first concession stand in major league ball. The Wrigleys took over the majority ownership in 1920 and expanded the field, which was originally only about 2/3 its current size.


As most baseball people know, the Wrigleys thought night games would be a passing fad, although they did have a plan to install lights in 1941. After Pearl Harbor, they shipped the lights up to the Great Lakes Naval Training Station for use in simulating night landings on aircraft carriers, and it was another 47 years before permanent lights were installed. However, the All-American Girls Professional League played their 1943 championship game at Wrigley under temporary lights.


AAGPL Photo at Wrigley Field

AAGPL Photo at Wrigley Field


We weren’t allowed into the dugouts because high school prospects were trying out on the field, but we got to see the locker rooms–very bare-bone affairs compared to some of the newer parks, but surprisingly enough, all of the parks have pretty utilitarian facilities–just a place to hang clothes, a little safe for valuables, a chair to sit in before the game. Interesting factoid about laundry: the home team is responsible for washing the visitors uniforms. The night before a team arrives, a courier deposits their dirty laundry at the home park, where the staff launders the clothes and has them hanging up in the visitors’ locker room by the time the team arrives. Jobs I’m glad I don’t have…


View of the Field From the Press box

View of the Field From the Press box


View of the City from the top of Wrigley Field

View of the City from the top of Wrigley Field


In the visitors locker room

In the visitors locker room


We did get to sit in the press box, and, since no one was around, use the men’s room outside, which has an amazing view of the city.


I’m not sure I can really set a chase scene here–the fun place would be the old scoreboard, which no one is allowed into–but I do have my heart set on another possibility: guest host of the 7th Inning Stretch.


Share/Save

 •  flag
2 comments
2 likes · like  • 
Published on June 03, 2013 16:37 • 134 views