Monday, January 7, 2013

Book Notes — Confessions Of A Discontented Deity, A Different Kind Of Mystery

I asked Michael Z. Lewin about his new book, which is a bit of a departure from his two critically well-received and popular mystery series. Here is Mr. Lewin’s response:

Confessions of a Discontented Deity is a different kind of book for me, for sure.  A novel, yes, but not obviously a mystery except in the mystery-of-life sense.  But that doesn’t mark a sea change in my oeuvre or my interests.  I’ve always been more interested in people than in poisons, more interested in why people do things than how they kill each other.  A writer friend of mine, Carter Wilson, responded to my previous book (Family Way) by saying that as a mystery writer I was like a surgeon who got into the slicing and dicing before he realized blood and guts were involved.

Nor is the God who narrates these Confessions much of a stickler for what one might call the genre of religious forms and practices.  The basic idea is that if God created man then to understand God all you need to do is look at man, men, and work backwards.  That reasoning offers you a geek who likes to play with His toys, get laid, and avoid hassle.

Yet men can change — well, some of them.  So God too can change.  And in Confessions He reconstructs the latest time when He discovered Himself to be changing.  And He tells what He did about it.  In the course of the reconstruction He explains about Life, on earth and elsewhere in the Universe.  And why men (and women) came to be created.  And what’s going to happen next.

There’s even a chapter in which God solves a crime.

Michael Z. Lewin
This is not my first book that has been “different,” and I’ve never been one to stick even to a single series.  In the late ‘90s I published Rover’s Tales.  In that book Rover narrates his adventures as an “independent” dog, but in many ways it’s really a book about humanity, looking up from ground level.  Well, now “dog” has reversed itself and become “god” and instead of looking at man and womankind from below, Confessions is a view looking down from the heavens.  So maybe it’s a new series.  Dog, God…  What’s next?  The Ogds?  Whatever they are.  Meanwhile Rover, though unnamed, does make an appearance in Confessions.

A long time ago it was a revelation to me that for the tax folks instead of being a writer I was a “small business.”  If I were a better businessman I would have been writing versions of the same book over and over, like many of the most successful crime folks seem to do.  But I’m not much of a businessman.  So here, instead of more Albert Samson, is God.  How good a writer I am is up to you to decide.

However, for those interested in Samson, just let me say that I’m just finishing a Samson short story.  It is the fourth in a series in which he has the same client.  The first of these stories, “Who I Am” is the one honored by the Private Eye Writers of America with the short story Shamus this year.  It was followed in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine by “Good Intentions” with “Extra Fries” yet to be published.  And, I hope, the fourth and last in what amounts to a mini-series.  MZL

Michael Z. Lewin has written more than 20 novels and numerous short stories as well as stage and radio plays. A resident of Indianapolis for many years, he lives in Bath, England.

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