Khanh Ho is writing the first Vietnamese American Detective Fiction ever. Why? Because being the first is a power trip. In this installment, he humorously discusses the implications of gun control on the shape of the Mystery Novel. Like what you read? Share, comment, subscribe.
I have no official stance on gun control. But I'm kind of a half-assed liberal. I listen to NPR. I even feel guilty for not eating organic. When it gets unseasonably hot or rainy or cold, I'm quick on the trigger. "We've got to start doing something about global warming," I'll bark. I voted not once but twice for current reigning heavy weight president Barack Obama.
I never gave it much thought: I am kind of pro-gun-control because of the world I live in -- a world where I daily flirt with veganism and juicing and cleansing. I'm not so extreme that I'll actually stand at a corner with a picket sign. But I have been known to drive by slowly and honk my horn -- and if it's safe, if I do not need to keep both hands on the wheel, I'll raise my fist in solidarity.
But today I suddenly began to think about what the hot topic of gun control means for me as a mystery novelist, not as a Kombucha-drinking-farmers-market-goer-who-has-on-occasion-worn-yoga-pants. And I suddenly saw a pretty ugly picture. Without guns, America's preeminent place within the world's imagination will suddenly grow flaccid. Who wants to see an action adventure movie without the rat-a-tat-tat of guns guns guns -- massive guns of every make and model? Who wants to read a mystery novel without the murder and mayhem that is possible only through the deadly steel of a cold, hard pistol?
So here is my list of 10 Things that will Change in Detective Fiction... if we get rid of guns in America:
1) We will all resort to knives and swords, daggers and picks -- sharp objects will reign.
2) Mixed Martial Arts will suddenly spike and writers will learn new terminology for grappling; UFC cross-over novels will become the new now.
3) Bombs: fictitious characters will start dying through bombs; it will be messy and extremely imprecise.
4) Genre Crossing: Classic Detective Fiction -- the gun sort -- will be crossed with Historical Drama... if we want a classic shoot 'em up scene, it will have to be imagined as the not-so-distant past. The '80s will be a historical period.
5) In the world of fiction, the NRA will be proven right: only the bad guys will have access to guns.
6) Good guys will encounter guns in trash cans and under stoops -- lucky finds! -- but they will never be able to carry one in a holster.
7) Many more bludgeonings and stranglings... many, many more...
8) All those ex-cop, alcoholic detectives will return to the police force... just to get their grubby little fingers on a trigger.
9) Detectives with storylines dependent upon shooting will suddenly, in one installment, move up to Canada where it's just like American but with guns. They'll go up for a convenient reason -- a dame -- but they'll stay... to maim.
10) Nunchucks will experience a renaissance hitherto unseen since the appearance of Bruce Lee.
All of this paints a pretty dismal picture for the American mystery -- that little world in books out of which I am tentatively trying to build a small and modest home. So, I'm not sure where I stand anymore on this whole gun control debate. On the one hand, I want to still be able to drink my Free Trade Coffee with a measure of dignity -- without the feeling that I've betrayed the values of a class to which I marginally belong; on the other, I know that without guns, America will no longer tower above the rest of the world. Nobody will watch our movies. Our books will be castrated. And I will be without a job.
Did you like this? Make Khanh's day: Share on Facebook. Tweet your friends. Leave a comment. Here's a question to get you started: Would you ever read a mystery without guns?