Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
DOUBLE YOUR DONATION!
We don’t run corporate ads. We don’t shake our readers down for money every month or every quarter like some other sites out there. We provide our site for free to all, but the bandwidth we pay to do so doesn’t come cheap. A generous donor is matching all donations of $100 or more! So please donate now to double your punch!
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Crime of Silence

 

Sara Paretsky is known for her crime fiction. One of the first writers in this genre to feature a female protagonist, Paretsky’s tales exist in the netherworld of murder, corruption and general venality that often crosses into that part of the human soul where power, lust and greed combine to produce sheer evil. It is this familiarity with that juncture that makes Paretsky’s recently released collection of essays on our current condition so interesting. The book, titled Writing In An Age of Silence, is a heartfelt expression of the age of fear we live in. It is also much more than that.

Paretsky discusses her childhood and how that part of her life played into the origins of her fictional characters. She writes about her parents’ struggle as immigrants to understand the United States and the meaning of the almost total destruction of her family by the Nazis. She describes a childhood that was not easy but also quite typical of her times and circumstances. In another part of the book, her description of her experience as a foot soldier in the civil rights movement in Chicago when Martin Luther King came to that town to protest housing discrimination leads into a discussion of the realities of US class, and race and the way the two phenomenon are manipulated. “That summer,” she writes, “changed my life forever.” Besides opening her eyes to the aforementioned realities of race and class and the inferno the mix could create when manipulated by those whose interests such manipulation served, Paretsky tells the reader that the summer of 1966 made her aware of the issues of voice and voicelessness–issues that helped her decide what to write and continue to dominate her writing.

I have been working in libraries for twenty years and writing for even longer. Therefore it was with great interest that I read Ms. Paretsky’s final essay in this book. It is a discussion of the publishing business in the world of global capital, the fate of libraries as democratic institutions, the fear to write what one truly believes in the wake of the 9-11 and the so-called PATRIOT Act and the fear to borrow certain books from the library. It is also about the fear to read and discuss such books for fear that someone might be listening who might then report you. I know that when I plan what I will read on an airplane trip, I am always certain to not carry a book whose title might cause some TSA worker to pull me off to the side and question me. It doesn’t even have to be the government that watches us. It can be a fellow citizen who has allowed their fears to overcome their reason..

Over the course of Writing In An Age of Silence, Paretsky addresses religion in the US, American exceptionalism and its influences on how Washington frames its imperial adventures, her experiences as a woman in capitalist America, and even Dashiell Hammett and his inspiration in her writing. This book is light in its weight, but not in its content. It is a concise, compellingly written discussion of everything mentioned here which, despite the darkness of the authoritarian night within which this discussion resides, there is a ray of light. That light is Paretsky’s writing. It is learned without being aloof, and accessible yet not condescending. One hopes that those who like Paretsky’s crime fiction (and that is a good number of today’s readers) will take the time to read Writing In An Age of Silence, and then do something about what they have read. Yet this book should not only be confined to those familiar with Paretsky’s fiction It is for anyone concerned about living in the times Ms. Paretsky so aptly describes as an age of silence.

RON JACOBS is author of The Way the Wind Blew: a history of the Weather Underground, which is just republished by Verso. Jacobs’ essay on Big Bill Broonzy is featured in CounterPunch’s collection on music, art and sex, Serpents in the Garden. His first novel, Short Order Frame Up, is forthcoming from Mainstay Press. He can be reached at: rjacobs3625@charter.net

 

 

More articles by:

Ron Jacobs is the author of Daydream Sunset: Sixties Counterculture in the Seventies published by CounterPunch Books. His latest offering is a pamphlet titled Capitalism: Is the Problem.  He lives in Vermont. He can be reached at: ronj1955@gmail.com.

October 22, 2018
Henry Giroux
Neoliberalism in the Age of Pedagogical Terrorism
Melvin Goodman
Washington’s Latest Cold War Maneuver: Pulling Out of the INF
David Mattson
Basket of Deplorables Revisited: Grizzly Bears at the Mercy of Wyoming
Michelle Renee Matisons
Hurricane War Zone Further Immiserates Florida Panhandle, Panama City
Tom Gill
A Storm is Brewing in Europe: Italy and Its Public Finances Are at the Center of It
Christopher Brauchli
The Liars’ Bench
Gary Leupp
Will Trump Split the World by Endorsing a Bold-Faced Lie?
Michael Howard
The New York Times’ Animal Cruelty Fetish
Alice Slater
Time Out for Nukes!
Geoff Dutton
Yes, Virginia, There are Conspiracies—I Think
Daniel Warner
Davos in the Desert: To Attend or Not, That is Not the Question
Priti Gulati Cox – Stan Cox
Mothers of Exiles: For Many, the Child-Separation Ordeal May Never End
Manuel E. Yepe
Pence v. China: Cold War 2.0 May Have Just Begun
Raouf Halaby
Of Pith Helmets and Sartorial Colonialism
Dan Carey
Aspirational Goals  
Wim Laven
Intentional or Incompetence—Voter Suppression Where We Live
Weekend Edition
October 19, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Jason Hirthler
The Pieties of the Liberal Class
Jeffrey St. Clair
A Day in My Life at CounterPunch
Paul Street
“Male Energy,” Authoritarian Whiteness and Creeping Fascism in the Age of Trump
Nick Pemberton
Reflections on Chomsky’s Voting Strategy: Why The Democratic Party Can’t Be Saved
John Davis
The Last History of the United States
Yigal Bronner
The Road to Khan al-Akhmar
Robert Hunziker
The Negan Syndrome
Andrew Levine
Democrats Ahead: Progressives Beware
Rannie Amiri
There is No “Proxy War” in Yemen
David Rosen
America’s Lost Souls: the 21st Century Lumpen-Proletariat?
Joseph Natoli
The Age of Misrepresentations
Ron Jacobs
History Is Not Kind
John Laforge
White House Radiation: Weakened Regulations Would Save Industry Billions
Ramzy Baroud
The UN ‘Sheriff’: Nikki Haley Elevated Israel, Damaged US Standing
Robert Fantina
Trump, Human Rights and the Middle East
Anthony Pahnke – Jim Goodman
NAFTA 2.0 Will Help Corporations More Than Farmers
Jill Richardson
Identity Crisis: Elizabeth Warren’s Claims Cherokee Heritage
Sam Husseini
The Most Strategic Midterm Race: Elder Challenges Hoyer
Maria Foscarinis – John Tharp
The Criminalization of Homelessness
Robert Fisk
The Story of the Armenian Legion: a Dark Tale of Anger and Revenge
Jacques R. Pauwels
Dinner With Marx in the House of the Swan
Dave Lindorff
US ‘Outrage’ over Slaying of US Residents Depends on the Nation Responsible
Ricardo Vaz
How Many Yemenis is a DC Pundit Worth?
Elliot Sperber
Build More Gardens, Phase out Cars
Chris Gilbert
In the Wake of Nepal’s Incomplete Revolution: Dispatch by a Far-Flung Bolivarian 
Muhammad Othman
Let Us Bray
Gerry Brown
Are Chinese Municipal $6 Trillion (40 Trillion Yuan) Hidden Debts Posing Titanic Risks?
Rev. William Alberts
Judge Kavanaugh’s Defenders Doth Protest Too Much
Ralph Nader
Unmasking Phony Values Campaigns by the Corporatists
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail