Kinsey and Me: Storiesby Published 08 Jan 2013
|Kinsey and Me: Stories.pdf|
|Publisher||Marian Wood Books/Putnam|
A collection of stories that reveal Kinsey's origins--and Grafton's past. The nine stories that open the book show how fully formed Kinsey was from the beginning. The thirteen stories in the second part, written in the decade following her mother's death, feature Kit Blue, a younger version of Grafton herself, and reflect her troubled family life and the author's journey from anger to understanding and forgiveness.
"Kinsey and Me: Stories" Reviews
I picked this up from the library last week thinking I’d never read it. Two stories in, I realized I had already read it. So I’ll review what I can from memory.
If you’ve never read a Grafton before, it’s a good one to cut your teeth on. If you love the detailed mystery it will fall short. If you just like the character you’ll love it. I’m in the middle. So it gets a 3 star rating from me.
Good characters. Interesting backstory. Fun to learn about the author. I like the interaction at different parts or ages in Kinsey’s life.
Mysteries were too easy to solve. Not long enough to get vested.
It is supposed to be this way tho. So I get it.
I read my first Sue Grafton book over twenty years ago. We had just moved to a small town and of course one of the first places I visited was the local library. It was housed on the main floor of an old house on Main Street at that time. The collection was small, but the enthusiasm of the librarian evident. I asked her if she could suggest a good read, nothing too heavy as I had a newborn and long reading periods were non-existent and oh, I did like mysteries.....Well, you guessed it - she put A is for Alibi (originally published in 1982) in my hand - and a fan was born. I've read every one since and am looking forward to W is for ?, due out later this year.
This 'alphabet' series features private eye Kinsey Millhone who lives and works in Santa Teresa, California. The books are set in the 1980's, so our sleuth uses 'old fashioned' methods to solve her cases. I can open the latest book and feel like I'm catching up with a familiar friend. Kinsey is wry and witty. She's a darn good sleuth and a really nice person. Grafton always comes up with a plausible plot that keeps me interested from first page to last.
Kinsey and Me was originally released in 1992 with a limited run of 326 copies. This newest version is just released.
The book is divided into two parts - the first half is a collection of Kinsey stories and the smaller second half is a set of stories featuring Kit Blue.
What made reading these special was the foreword where Grafton explains writer's craft - specifically that of a detective short story. It was really interesting to see the method behind the result.
"For me, the mystery short story is appealing for two reasons. One, I can utilize ideas that are clever, but too quirky or slight to support the extended trajectory of the novel. And two, I complete a manuscript in two weeks as opposed to the longer gestation and delivery time required of a novel. The short story allows me to shift gears. Like an invitation to go outside and play, the shorter form offers a refreshing change of pace."
Some of the Kinsey stories I had come across before in various anthologies. But I enjoyed each one thoroughly. They were like a little Kinsey microcosm, offering the reader a glance and a taste of this iconic character.
But, it was the introductions that really made this book personal. Grafton offers up Kinsey as her alter ego - "The person I might have been had I not married young and had children." We become privy to the similarities between the fictional Kinsey's life and Sue Grafton's.
The Kit Blue stories were new to me and I think they affected me the most. "If Kinsey Millhone is my alter ego, Kit Blue is simply a younger version of me." Sue Grafton's parents were both alcoholics. The Kit stories were written ten years after the death of Grafton's mother. "...my way of coming to terms with my grief for her." They are raw, powerful and real, filled with overwhelming emotion and honesty. These are the stories that stayed with the longest.
I really enjoyed Kinsey and Me - an opportunity to visit with a familiar character, but also a chance to learn more about a favourite author.
"It amuses me that I invented someone who has gone on to support me. It amuses her, I'm sure, that she will live in the world long after I am gone. I trust that you will enjoy her companionship as I have." Indeed we do, Sue, indeed we do.
I give the first half of the book one star and the second half four, but I still only rated the book at two stars because it was such a disappointment overall. I'm glad I didn't buy the book, because I would have felt cheated. The Kinsey stories were a failure for the most part. There was no real plot development and Kinsey solves the mysteries too easily. Most of the endings were too abrupt and usually insipid. And Kinsey's personality doesn't shine through at all. Some of the stories had potential if they had been a novel, but now they've been used (wasted) in the wrong format.
On the other hand, the second part of the book showed just how good a writer Grafton really is. All the vignettes (I wouldn't exactly call them short stories) were sensitive portraits of a dysfunctional family and I really liked the way Grafton examined her relationship with her parents, particularly her mother, from different perspectives. (I'm assuming that these are autobiographical.) I've rarely read such a spot-on description of depression and alcoholism anywhere.
The book doesn't take long to read so the first part can be dispensed with pretty rapidly so you can finally get to the good part.
ARC copy. Kinsey and Me: Stories is a rare treat for a mystery fan and for students of the writer's craft. The Kinsey short stories show exactly why Grafton has such a loyal following. They are fun and well crafted with surprisingly complexity for their given space. The ...and Me stories - more vignettes, really - are what push this collection into something special. They are raw and heartbreaking and beautiful; I applaud Grafton's courage and willingness to share them. To the fan, though, they are also a trove of unexpected insights into the character and world of Kinsey Millhone. It really is unusual to get to see so clearly how a fiction series is informed by the interior landscape of an author.
This book has 2 parts to it.
The first half "Kinsey & the second half "Me"
Being a big Kinsey fan (getting ready to start No.19 in the series)it was almost guaranteed I was going to like the first half which consists of 9 short stories starring everyone's favourite female PI from the 80s. They were all typical Kinsey stories, although I'm not sure she really suits short stories as some of them just felt a bit rushed & the mystery too easily & quickly solved. 3.5★
The second half unfortunately not so enjoyable. These 13 short stories revolve around the character Kit Blue from childhood through to adulthood, marriage & children with her alcoholic Mother. These stories were very deep, dark & depressing & really not my thing, although made slightly more interesting (& definitely more sad) by the fact that these stories are apparently partly auto-biographically for the author. 2.5★