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Heather Haven visits

Not That I Write Literature

“Not that I write literature” was a phrase uttered by a well-known author at the book signing I attended for his recently released book, Perfect Alibi. Sheldon Siegel is an established, New York Times best selling author. More importantly, he writes books that are beautifully crafted, with flawed, well-rounded characters, intricate plots, easy, clear dialogue and superb pacing. In short, Mr. Siegel is a writer of such that he gives credit to the writing profession. His sincere, self-deprecating comment surprised me.

Webster Dictionary describes the word literature as “creative writing of recognized artistic value.” Hello there, Mr. Siegel.

Possibly all fine writers have the element of self-doubt as this author, the need to perfect their craft in each succeeding book, the looking back on preceding books as slightly lacking.

It made me wonder. Did Fitzgerald ever say at any of his book signings, it’s just a love story about a girl named Daisy? Could Hemmingway have said, what’s the fuss? I only wrote about an old guy and a fish? Did James Joyce ever comment that he was merely writing about Dublin society? It’s very possible.

Mr. Siegel’s proclamation could have been made because he writes genre, i.e. mystery. There is often a stigma attached to the writing of genre, something that often tells the author, if only in self-inflicted whispers, that his or her work is slightly less.

I sincerely hope this is not the case. For if the job of a book is to entertain, enlighten, or expand the experience of the reader -- and that’s what writers are taught to aim for in every writing workshop I’ve attended -- Mr. Siegel’s books deliver all three.

His latest novel, Perfect Alibi, is a compelling read. It deals with the human condition, imperfect relationships and the desire to make the world a better place. And, oh yes, it is a mystery. In my humble opinion, it is also literature.

The lesson I took away from this experience was to continue to strive for the quality of writing and depth of humility given to Sheldon Siegel. And, Mr. Siegel, thank you for a great read.

to be continued....

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