“If we can’t get guns out of our cities, let’s at least get them out of our crime stories,” Ron Charles at washingtpost.com writes. “That seems to be the idea behind a curious anthology called ‘Unloaded: Crime Writers Writing Without Guns.’ Among the two-dozen contributors are Joyce Carol Oates, Reed Farrel Coleman, Alison Gaylin, Joe Lansdale and Kelli Stanley. Together they offer plenty of deaths by hammers, subways, knives and (of course) insane clowns — but no firearms.” Now the way I read it . . .
The book makes an excellent case for firearms. It highlights the fact that civilian disarmament would do nothing to stop potentially lethal violence. But that’s not the editor and author Eric Beetner’s intent.
“I was feeling a little conflicted in my own writing, feeling that I was glorifying everything that I stand against,” Beetner says from Los Angeles, where he works as a TV editor. Sensing a similar conflict in other crime and thriller writers, he decided to reach out and see if they could assemble an anthology that removes guns from the creative equation. “I thought, ‘What if we banned together and made a statement that even those of us who do glorify these things in certain ways, we also want it to be known that in the real world, we advocate a little more reason and sense?’”
I wasn’t aware that crime and thriller writers were “glorifying” firearms-related homicide. Although I’m sure they exist, I can’t remember reading a single example of the genre where the author glorified a bad guy shooting a good guy.
On the other hand, I’ve read hundreds of books where the author “glorified” a good guy shooting a bad guy. And I’ve got no problem with that. Why should I? To his credit, WaPo writer Charles sees the problem with painting this anthology as anti-gun agitprop (paraphrasing).
If not overtly, then certainly implicitly, this is a pro-gun-control collection, but ironically, it seems to confirm the old NRA bumper sticker: “Guns Don’t Kill People. People Kill People.” But Beetner says that slogan rings hollow. “It doesn’t speak to the 5-year-old who gets the gun out of the cabinet and shoots his sibling or himself. There are so many examples of gun violence that exist strictly because guns are so freely available.”
None of which are in his book, methinks. Which doesn’t really matter, but goes to show how little intellectual firepower went into this collection. A lack of rigor that Mr. Charles also displays with his conclusion.
. . . there’s no getting around this grim note in the introduction to “Unloaded”:
“During the time it took to put this book together, more than a dozen mass shootings took place, including killings in schools, churches and movie theaters.”
I can get around it. Easily. You?