Saturday, December 21, 2013

Kinsey and Me by Sue Grafton (2013)

I am not a big short story fan. I find the format really limiting in that I prefer longer, more involved stories and the craft involved in writing short stories - and it is a format that requires a lot of skill and work to do effectively - is not necessarily the type that I admire the most. Given this disinclination, when I saw Sue Grafton had written a book of short stories featuring my favourite female detective Kinsey Millhone, it took me rather a long time get around to borrowing it from the library.

Well, after finishing this book I cannot believe how stupid I was to let my silly prejudices prevent me from reading this book for so long! Kinsey and Me is a collection of short stories, the stories are divided up into two separate sections. The first section are detective stories starring Ms Millhone, which are fun and entertaining and everything I've come to expect from Sue Grafton. However, it was the second section that really surprised me and that I enjoyed the most.

I think sometimes we don't think of authors in the same way we do celebrities in that we don't form an attachment to them but to the characters they write. We may associate authors with a particular genre, style of writing and set of characters but I know that I rarely think of their lives beyond the books they publish. Even though Sue Grafton is an actual living breathing person and Kinsey Millhone is not, it is Kinsey who feels more real to me. Or, should I say, did before reading this book. The second section is stories about Kit Blue, who Sue Grafton tells us is a fictionalised representation of her. Grafton says she wrote the stories to deal with her feelings following the death of her mother, who was an alcoholic, and the result is hauntingly beautiful exquisitely crafted moments in a life that say so much using so few words. They were poignant and sad but hopeful and loving - I enjoyed them very much and, as much as I love Kinsey, using these tales as a basis I hope that Grafton does write more non-Kinsey novels.

Five stars.

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