“Loyal, Shabby and Unknown”

A few weeks ago, over on my Facebook page, someone asked me what Bouchercon was. I said it was a fan’s convention, put on by volunteers who love crime fiction. One of my loyal readers said she preferred to be known as a “reader.” I replied that I normally prefer that term, too. “Reader” is to “fan” as “crime fiction” is to “mystery” — broader, more general. Fans are readers, but readers are not always fans. But Bouchercon is a conference by fans, for fans — and the fans include the writers. (You should have seen all the writers slavering over Daniel Woodrell, myself among them.)

The robot is a reader and a fan

One of my favorite pieces of nonfiction, ever, is Roger Angell’s “Three for the Tigers,” to which I link here with some reluctance: I don’t like to give away anyone’s content, but it’s on Google Books and I like to think that anyone who reads it will go out and buy Angell’s books, which range from compendiums to a lovely memoir. The title for this entry is taken from Angell’s piece. Here it is in context:

“In this country’s long love affair with professional sports, the athlete has more and more come to represent the inamorata — an object of unceasing scrutiny, rapturous adoration, and expensive adornment — while the suitor, or fan, remains forever loyal, shabby and unknown.” These words were published in September 1973.

What’s so wrong with being a fan? Is it because the word derives from “fanatic?” (That’s not even 100 percent certain, based on my cursory Internet research. Sounds like a job for Roy Blount Jr.)*

Years ago, as a reporter, I decided to write a profile of a man who had made it his life’s goal to read 10,000 books. He kept a list of them, too. A person who is trying to read 10,000 books inevitably leads a somewhat quiet life, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth a a thousand words or so in a newspaper.

So today, in support of fandom, I include a list of people of whom I am an unabashed fan:

1) Stephen Sondheim

2) Kate Atkinson

3) Top Chef

4) Craig Ferguson

5) Brooks Robinson

6) Paul O’Neill (bet you never saw that one coming)

7) Philip Roth

8) Anne Tyler

9) Mindy Kaling

10) Elvis Costello

I’ve actually met four of the people on this list and stared mutely at two in restaurants. This is by no means a complete list, just what bubbled up to the surface. Feel free to add your own in the comments section and I’ll probably expand on mine.



24 thoughts on ““Loyal, Shabby and Unknown”

  1. Dennis Lehane (I made such a fool of myself the first time we met)
    Stephen Colbert
    James Taylor
    Jane Austen
    Dave Barry

    and yeah, I’m going to say it: Laura Lippman

  2. Because I am a fan as well as an avid reader mine are as follows (they are not all writers) -

    Gary Phillips (he always puts a big grin on my face when I meet him)
    Laura Lippman (and not because this is her blog)
    George Pelecanos
    Jon Jordan
    Val McDermid
    Jackie Joyner Kersee
    Baroness Hale of Richmond (Brenda Hale)
    Sara Paretsky
    Dennis Lehane
    Luiz Alfredo Garcia-Roza
    James Lee Burke
    Robert Crais - and these are just off the top of my head!

  3. Funny how the two that stand out on your list for me are not considered “writers” in the most strict sense of the word. It’s no secret to me why you’re an unabashed fan of Craig Ferguson — he’s brilliant, hilarious, thoughtful, cheeky, and adorable. I just got back from LA last night after seeing two Late Late Show tapings because I must have a live CF fix every few months or risk madness. My only wish is that he could find the time to stretch his writing muscles again.

    As for Elvis Costello, no one who’s read his lyrics could deny calling him a writer. It’s amazing that some of the most seething, sneering diatribes set to music were penned by the same artist who can hush a full theater to absolute silence as he sings the heartbreaking “Shipbuilding”. I saw Elvis destroy the Warner Theater in DC two weeks ago in a 2 1/2 hour whirlwind of a show featuring his “spectacular singing songbook,” a giant wheel of his songs that he invites the audience to spin for the next musical selection. Just breathtaking. But again, if he could find the time to write something other than his hilarious and insightful liner notes, I’d be forever grateful.

    Thanks Laura for giving me the chance to gush about these two. When will you be on Craig’s show again?

  4. Bob Dylan
    Robert Kennedy
    Steve Jobs
    Bernie Sanders
    Michael Connelly
    Derek Jeter
    Bruce Springsteen
    Kate Chopin
    Laura Lippman
    Jackson Browne
    Jeffrey Deaver
    John Sanford
    Naomi Wolf
    Susan Brownmiller

  5. Stephen King
    J.K. Rowling
    Connie Willis
    Hillary Clinton
    Jamie Freveletti

    Those are just a few off the top of my brain this morning…time for some tea. :)

  6. Elvis costello is an excellent choice!
    John Irving
    Stephen King
    Dean Koontz
    Alan Bradley
    Jim Butcher
    Laura Lippman

    The last three authors are new favorite who’s work I am currenly devouring like potato chips.

    I have put on my bucket list to see Baltimore since having read some of LL books! Color me giddy!

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