Saturday, March 08, 2008

Andrea Camilleri's politics get personal, plus a question for readers

It's nice to see a crime writer let the satirical arrows fly without pretense of diplomacy. Shane Maloney does this, and Christopher Brookmyre does not know the meaning of the word restraint, which is part of the reason he's fun to read.

But neither Maloney nor Brookmyre is as direct as Andrea Camilleri in The Paper Moon, ninth novel in the Salvo Montalbano series:


"During the horrific hurricane `Clean Hands,' he had turned into a submarine, navigating underwater by means of periscope alone. He resurfaced only when he'd sighted the possibility of casting anchor in a safe port – the one just constructed by a former Milanese real-estate speculator-cum-owner of the top three private nationwide television stations-cum parliamentary deputy, head of his own personal political party, and finally prime minister."
That is in the spirit of the passages from Maloney and Brookmyre to which I linked above, but neither zeroes in on an individual the way Camilleri does on Silvio Berlusconi. Even the Brookmyre is about Thatcherism and its publicists rather than about Margaret Thatcher herself.

There is something bracing about satire so clearly directed at a particular powerful person. And that, readers, leads to your question: Who else does what Camilleri does? Which crime stories are not only satirical but aim their barbs at a particular individual?

© Peter Rozovsky 2008

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12 Comments:

Blogger Linkmeister said...

Rex Stout's The Doorbell Rang aimed at J. Edgar Hoover.

Can't immediately think of any others, but I'm sure they're out there.

March 08, 2008  
Blogger Peter said...

That may have come up in one of my earlier discussions of politically themed crime fiction. I remember posting about a distinctly political stand by Nero Wolfe against arbitrary and excessive exercise of police power, for instance.

I can look for The Doorbell Rang, of course, but until then, how personally does Stout direct satire at J. Edgar Hoover in the story?

March 08, 2008  
Blogger Linkmeister said...

Well, it's not really satire, I suppose. The client and Wolfe both express their disdain and derision at the excesses of Hoover's FBI in no uncertain terms, and the book ends with a memorable scene that essentially humiliates the man himself.

March 08, 2008  
Blogger Peter said...

Essentially humiliating the man himself sounds good. And I had not noticed before that the title, The Doorbell Rang, is highly evocative of all those visits that make Archie hesitate for a moment before answering the door.

March 08, 2008  
Blogger Uriah Robinson said...

How come you have got a copy of Paper Moon before me?

March 08, 2008  
Blogger Peter said...

I asked myself the same question. I can assure you that I did not acquire the book by illicit means; the publisher sent me a review copy.

March 08, 2008  
Blogger Uriah Robinson said...

You are a lucky man, but then Andrea Camilleri is one author whose books I actually buy.
My copy has been on order for months.

March 09, 2008  
Blogger Peter said...

I'd agree that if there were any cosmic justice, you would have received a copy before I did. I wonder if this has anything to do with U.S. vs. U.K. publication dates.

March 09, 2008  
Blogger Lisa said...

Ah, here's where I should have left my comment asking if you had read Paper Moon in Italian! Now I understand why you've been able to read it before the rest of us. It won't be available in the U.S. until April.

March 12, 2008  
Blogger Peter said...

Lisa, you can leave comments here, there. The more you leave (within reason, of course), the more my traffic goes up!

If you can't get The Paper Moon until April, you at lease have some possible recipes for your next edition of Novel Food.

March 12, 2008  
Blogger Lisa said...

I'm reading a Martha Grimes book right now, and I was thinking of making something from it for this edition of NF. However, none of the candidates sound anywhere near as tasty to me as practically anything from a Camilleri book, so I'll probably go that way again.

March 14, 2008  
Blogger Peter said...

Martha Grimes? Now, there's a surprise. I've never read her, but I'd have taken it for granted that a program like Novel Food would belong to Italian and French writers, with an occasional entry from Spain.

March 14, 2008  

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