Last year, a first-time author penned a small crime novel about a detective hot on the trail of a supermodel's killer. It got fairly good reviews, but wasn't selling terrifically well. So when that first-time author was shockingly "unmasked" by a series of clumsy tweets, and Robert Galbraith was instead revealed to be book-writing superstar JK Rowling, people went nuts.
A new JK Rowling book that had flown completely under the radar! Was she embarrassed about writing simple detective potboilers? What should we make of her decision to choose a male pseudonym? What did the heavy themes of fame and the lack of privacy it brings tell us about JK's current relationship with the press? Was the whole situation entirely metaphorical?
Because everyone was caught up in psychoanalyzing JK instead of reading, not a lot was said about the book itself. I read it roughly around the time of the big unveiling, and removed from the shock and awe of the situation, my verdict is that it was pretty good. Without acting like an armchair psychologist, the book's themes of fame and family were interesting and arguably could only have been handled that thoroughly and accurately by someone who has experienced them first-hand. But, by and large, I thought it was just... good. It was a solid detective novel written by a talented author who was having some fun.
In that sense, it is a shame that she wasn't allowed to continue writing anonymously. Although apparently her reasons for enjoying that anonymity had as much to do with the lack of hype as it did with trying to avoid the pressures of being a female novelist. She recently said the following at an event:
There's a line in As Good as it Gets, where a woman asks [Jack Nicholson's character] how he writes such wonderful female characters and he says, and I'm paraphrasing, 'I think of a man, and I take out the logic', or the sense. That made me laugh, as misogynistic as it is, because when I write a man I take certain things out and give free rein to aspects of me that would not be acceptable. To be honest, I think I'm quite blokey — at least I'm told I am, and I like writing both.
I'll... leave that there and just say that regardless, I am looking forward to the newest entry in the "Coroman Strike" series, Silkworm, due out June 19th.
Once again, fame is the prevailing theme in a book where a rock star's son is investigating the death of a famous author who has just finished writing a book exposing a host of nasty secrets about a number of well-known public figures.
While that definitely gives a lot of room for psychoanalysis, here's to hoping people actually bother to read the book this time around.