This is the 32nd Carnival – a traveling celebration of crime fiction blogging that has been going on since the fall of 2007. They say all good things must come to an end. (I don’t know why – dark chocolate should never come to an end.) But it seems time to strike the big top, break down the roller coaster, and shut off the lights. It’s getting harder to find new hosts, I hate to keep imposing on the same contributors, and a truly wonderful substitute has come along that . . . well, I’ll tell you about that later.(This is how crafty writers build suspense.)
After its launch at Karen Chisholm’s blog, part of the wondrous AustCrimeFiction site in 2007, it has made its way around the world a couple of times. As you can see from the map, we’ve been all over. And that was largely my goal – to discover interesting bloggers who could introduce us to even more bloggers who could expand our mysterious universe.
Okay, we didn’t really travel to Mongolia, but Michael Walters did show us around remotest Manchester. And I don’t really live in Scandinavia, though we do eat lutefisk in Minnesota. Does that count?
Every carnival has been different. Some have focused on film or on dead guys, others on specific settings such as the Australian Outback, or on cataloging various holidays. They’ve ranged from the deeply strange, to a veritable freak show. What would we have done without Mekon who has a brain the size of a (very green) planet or without Tillie of Palace Amusements?
I’ll always treasure the classic posts that Bernd preserved in his museum, and the rousing call to arms (or keyboards, anyway) when Declan Burke pondered the purpose of blogging and the role that thoughful commentary can play in demanding the best from a genre that gets short shrift from the mainstream press.I can’t resist quoting him at length because, well, it may be all fun and games, but really – isn’t this what we’re all striving for?
I am not saying that crime / mystery fiction should strive to be taken seriously by the literary establishment. They do what they do, and good luck to them; my personal reading habits involve quite a lot of what would be considered literary fiction, and I have no beef with what they do or how they do it. By the same token, and speaking only for myself, the last thing I need or want is a pat on the head from the literary establishment. What I AM saying is that the critical work on crime fiction needs to develop of and through its own metier, that the Johnsons of the crime / mystery community require their Boswells, and that I believe heart and soul that crime / mystery fiction needs and deserves the kind of widespread, top-to-bottom critical work that would in turn inspire the writers to strive towards ever-higher standards of work. . . . here’s the thing – crime / mystery fiction is the most popular genre on the planet, it is inarguably the most relevant and important fiction out there, and that’s why I believe it deserves more. It deserves more from me, certainly, than reviews that run along the lines of, “This is a great book because I liked it and I liked it because it’s a great book.” It deserves the kind of dynamic, rigorous, extensive and constantly evolving critical work that the interweb is perfectly placed to provide, and it deserves to be critiqued, justified and praised not by the kind of commentator who will suggest that a particular novel has (koff) ‘transcended the genre’, but by those who understand that good crime / mystery fiction is simultaneously scourge and balm, panacea and drug, a fiction for the world we live in that is also its truth.
It’s not that there isn’t plenty to talk about. Blogs are full of interviews and book reviews and facinating challenges and interesting cover art. And if blogs aren’t enough for you, Mack offers a tour of the crime scene in Second Life. There’s no shortage of material. But here’s the thing – a 24/7 carnival has set up shop, a veritable Coney Island of the Criminal Minds. Just toddle over to FriendFeed and join the Crime and Mystery Fiction room. There you’ll find a constant stream of links, with chances to be part of an ongoing conversation with crime fiction critics and fans from all over. And it seems much more spontaneous and less of an imposition than the Carnival. I’ve enjoyed it, but it’s had its day.
Meanwhile, thanks to all the contributors who have hosted the carnival, many of you more than once.You get to go home with all the stuffed animals and more cotton candy than you can eat.
See you all around the Interwebs. And maybe we’ll bump into each other at FriendFeed.
photo courtesy of j.reed