September 13th 2001 , A Memory Project… Featuring Laura Lippman
Nine years ago today my husband Jon got a panicked phone call from our friend Richard Katz. “Laura Lippman is signing tonight. Nobody’s going to come. You guys will, right?” Laura was touring her new book, IN A STRANGE CITY. In a world gone mad two days after 9/11 Laura Lippman did what she could by getting to a signing in the Midwest she knew wouldn’t be well attended. That evening she said to us, “The best thing we can do is try to keep living our lives”.
There were people at the signing, a total of six I believe. Laura glowed and engaged her audience like it was a room of hundreds. She talked of Poe and Baltimore, of her job as a reporter. She talked of how she’d always wanted to write an important novel but she was grateful to make her living as a writer. She spoke of supplementing her income as a waitress in her early years. She spoke of her Crime Fiction heroes and peers. After the signing we went for dinner. Italian. Calzones and pizza and lasagna. Laura had cheese ravioli. And there was wine, a lot of wine. There was talk of 9/11 too. Choices we all had to make.
In the nine years since that night, I’ve gotten to know Laura Lippman pretty well. I’d have to insert (full disclosure) on anything I wrote about her writing. Except; I don’t feel I do. The reason for this is simple, she has that rarest of gifts… when you start a book by Lippman you are immediately transported to a different world. As you read her words all thoughts of dishes and bills and THE JOB recede into a halcyon background. For whatever the page count, while reading, you belong to her.
My drum beating for I’D KNOW YOU ANYWHERE has been muted. I’ve used the brushes rather than the sticks in a nod to those who draw these reviewing lines in the sand. I reviewed I’D KNOW YOU ANYWHERE for Crimespree. It was in a back and forth with Margery Flax of MWA on Facebook that my feelings were most clearly represented.
Like myself, Margery got an ARC (advanced reading copy). Many people did. Laura has a publisher who believes in her and rejoices with her in every success. The reading of Laura’s latest book is one of those rarest of pleasures. Not only is it so engrossing you don’t even realize your own reality has temporarily been suspended, you cannot see everything that is being said with just one read. With Margery I shared the joy of reading I’D KNOW YOU ANYWHERE. Chapter by chapter, moment by moment.
The slow reveal to the truth of I’D KNOW YOU ANYWHERE is one of my greatest reading experiences, in this, the new millennium.
Laura has spoken of wanting to improve with every novel. She has a work ethic that could and should shame most. By writing every day, questioning her motives, her talents, her fallibilities; she is that rarest of writer. The writer who will get better with each finished work. Who will never write to meet deadline but write to present a new, a better story.
I have loved the person Laura Lippman for nine years now. The writer Laura Lippman is someone I know I will continue to love more with each and every book. She continues to blur the lines of a reality you know with one that by turns, you want to believe in and are afraid to look at.
I’D KNOW YOU ANYWHERE. Three weeks on the New York Times Best Seller List. If, by chance, you’ve wandered across this piece and haven’t read it yet, do. You will not be disappointed. If you can buy it, I recommend it highly. In these times, if you need to get it at your local library, that’s fine. Laura is a huge believer in libraries. Last week Craig Fergeson accused her of being a naughty Librarian.
We all have memories, shaded by the passing of time and the lore of legend that aren’t quite real. Some are downright false. If you’ve read Laura Lippman’s work in the last five years, you know she plays with this theme; repeatedly and well. It makes her someone to be celebrated, not because she’s larger than life but because her fiction represents life like no one else writing today. Below is that Crimespree Review. I’m much more interested in yours.
I’D KNOW YOU ANYWHERE
Eliza and her family have returned to the States after time spent in England. They are close enough to her childhood home for the children to see their grandparents regularly and far enough away to keep the past at a distance. Until the letter arrives…
I’D KNOW YOU ANYWHERE. Eliza has a secret. The secret is shared with only five people, her parents, her sister, the husband who’s made the world safe for her and the dictator of the note.
15 year old Elizabeth was kidnapped as she cut through the woods her parents forbade her to go through. Walter held her captive for months before the rescue.
About to die, Walter wants to apologize. He’s found an emissary to contact his former hostage. Lippman has found another way to tell a story.
Relating a horrific past and a present day dilemma, Lippman tells the story of a serial killer and the victim who got away. As the two narratives advance, layers of morality are exposed and free will is questioned with the flow.
What makes I’D KNOW YOU ANYWHERE spectacular is the depth of Lippman’s concept for the book. Once again this author has risen the bar for herself and her contemporary novelists. Everything she’s written before was an exercise to write this novel. Memory is suspect. Only two can keep a secret.
Both the dialog and advancement of her characters from one page to the next make this a read best shared with the reader in print form. Present is the great sense of humor Lippman is known for and the depth of fear and loathing she’s taken us to before. The delivery is different. Riveting. New. I’D KNOW YOU ANYWHERE is an experience you’ll only share with yourself and the book. Sometimes a writer really can find the special blend that makes everything about their book too personal to communicate but so absorbing you’ll want to share it with everyone else who read’s it.
This is one of those books. To quote Henry Higgins “I do believe she’s got it”.