August 7, 2002


Murder is His Business : INTERVIEW with STUART M. KAMINSKY : The prolific creator of bumbling 1940s Hollywood gumshoe Toby Peters talks about his debt to Charlton Heston, his experiences in writing for television and movies, the increasing number of Jewish-theme mysteries, his Libertarian politics and his foray into the small-scale publishing business. (J. Kingston Pierce, August 2002, January Magazine.)
Q : Do you think that there's something quite appropriate about the pairing of Judaism and crime fiction?

A : For me there is a definite match. Abe is an Old Testament (Holy Scriptures) character. He does not turn the other cheek. He is willing to go beyond the limits of the law to mete out justice. He has a strong moral sense and believes that there are evil people and they must be dealt with. Like a biblical character, Abe is also not surprised by anything God does. He accepts the infathomability of God and is not in anguish over the tragedy of human existence. His name is Abraham for a reason. I read the Scriptures before I go to bed about three nights a week, not because I'm a zealot but because I think the lessons of the book are hard and reflect the reality of our existence, as I hope my Lieberman novels do. Essentially, God or whatever you wish to call the force that runs the universe (chance, evolution, etc.) can do anything at any time. Our task is not to struggle to understand. It is beyond understanding. Our task is to accept that anything can happen and we must live with it and create a moral set of imperatives that give our lives meaning (the Ten Commandments are a good place to start). [...]

Q : Before I forget, since we've already talked about religion, let's jump right onto that other third-rail of conversation: politics. While doing my research for this interview, I happened across a piece that said you're a Libertarian convert. What brought you to this conversion? And why buck the American two-party system, anyway?

A : I am a Libertarian. I'd describe my joining the party as a gradual change coming from beliefs that began to form when I was a boy. I started out as a Democrat like my parents, even campaigned for Ted Kennedy for president, moved to being a Buckley conservative, and a decade ago found that I agreed with almost everything the Libertarian Party stands for. As for bucking the two-party system, it is about time someone did. I see almost no difference between the two parties, and little real conviction about what they stand for. The Libertarian Party is clear in what it believes. And don't tell me I'm wasting my vote by voting Libertarian. I'm wasting my vote when I vote for the lesser of two evils. Nothing will ever change if we keep doing that. I vote for what I believe in, not for a compromise I'm uncomfortable with. [...]

Q : Final question: Let's say you suddenly find yourself trapped on a desert island. What three things would you most hope to find there? (No fair choosing some mode of transportation back to civilization.)

A : Assuming I have food, shelter, clothing and a spare pair of glasses on that desert island, I think I'd take a volume of the complete Shakespeare, the Holy Scriptures and a ukulele with very strong strings. The Bible and Shakespeare would be for reading and memorizing. The uke would be for self-entertainment.

It's an immensely interesting interview. His Porfiry Rastnikov series is particularly good. Posted by Orrin Judd at August 7, 2002 11:38 AM
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