Author Archives: Mitch

A child is killed in a car accident, and the child’s parents are sued by the driver of the truck that killed her. The driver wins.

The case hinges on a theory of emotion that’s relatively new but that has become commonly accepted: That emotions are out of our control; they happen to us, as a result of external events.

But recent research indicates that’s simply not the case. Emotion, says the research, is learned. And no single emotion is universal – not happiness, sadness, anger, fear – none of those emotions are present in every culture on Earth.


If I could wish for any superpower, it would be the ability to remember where I park.

Who’s Driving Your Uber?

Uber drivers are people in transition – not just driving from place to place, but also through life changes. On the Death, Sex & Money podcast, Anna Sale and producer Katie Bishop called a lot of Uber rides over a month, and interviewed the drivers about their work and lives.

(Death, Sex & Money podcast)

Going home

Drinking a pumpkin spice latte. I cannot remember ever having had one before. It’s fine, but I’m underwhelmed.

Iain Welsh nails the appeal of the early Spenser novels by Robert B. Parker.


Ostensibly first person “tough guy” detective novels, these are really extended meditations on the good life: what sort of person one should be, how one should act, what’s worth doing and not doing. Spenser has created the person he wants to be, and it’s a person that comes with high costs.

The dialogue is good, the plots are sometimes good, the characters become old friends and cliches over the length of the series. All the books are not as good as each other. Still, they were comfort food bestsellers for years.

The first Spenser novel, “The Godwulf Manuscript,” 1973, was a forgettable Raymond Chandler pastiche. Parker said so himself, and he was right. Spenser finds his voice — and Susan Silverman — in “God Save the Child,” 1974. I gobbled up the books in the series when I was in my 20s, and thinking about how a man should live.

The series turns weird in 1985; I found it difficult to connect with Spenser’s motivation in that year’s “A Catskill Eagle.” Then after that Parker has run out of things to say and he’s just cranking them out for the paycheck (not that there’s anything wrong with that!). The novels after 1985 are, as Welsh says, comfort food (not that there’s anything wrong with that!). But books 2-11 are brilliant.

Parker wrote a total of 40 Spenser novels. A writer named Ace Atkins wrote a half-dozen after Parker’s recent death. I read the first two. They were OK — actually better than Parker’s later novels, and I may come back to the series but it’s not compelling for me.

Welsh also praises a writer named Brian Daley, who was a favorite of mine before he died too young. Daley wrote a comedy-adventure space opera series starting with “Requiem for a Ruler of Worlds;” the Coramonde series, about an Armored Personnel Carrier in the Vietnam War that’s transported to a magic kingdom (Apocalypse Now meets Game of Thrones!) and “A Tapestry of Magics,” which I have no memory what it was about but I remember the hero carried a broadsword slung between his shoulders, which I thought was badass.