Everything for Your Home's
Beauty, Comfort & Convenience 384-2123
704 Jamestown St, Columbia
Dr. Ronald P. Rogers
Support for your body's natural healing capabilities
Click here for details
Columbia Walmart Supercenter
Open 24 Hours
Click here for information
Real Estate & Auction Co.
Duo County Telecom
Now Available Through
Your Cable Service!
GUN & PAWN
What's Going On
Info about the
Janice Holt Giles
and Henry Giles Society
Columbia Gas Dept.
GAS LEAK or GAS SMELL
24 hrs/ 365 days
270-384-2006 or 9-1-1
Call before you dig
Directory of Churches
phone numbers and more
for churches in Adair County
Tom Chaney: Evil, Ego, and High Principle
Of Writers And Their Books: Evil, Ego, and High Principle Tom says that it is the sound beneath the silence which makes Errors and Omissions such a satisfying experiencere. This column first appeared 21 September 2008.
The next earlier Tom Chaney column: Nigh Perfect Food!
By Tom Chaney
Evil, Ego, and High Principle
I have trouble writing about a mystery/suspense novel that I am eager for other folks to try. I want to tell enough about it to peak the interest of a reader, but I don't want to give too much away.
A couple of years back I wrote about a suspense novel written by a friend. I thought I had steered a clean course between telling enough to intrigue and not enough to spoil the surprise ending. She took me mildly to task for revealing it all.
In the case of Paul Goldstein's Errors and Omissions [Anchor Books, 2006] it should not be a problem revealing my pleasure in the story yet leaving enough unsaid.
But now the first pleasure came in how I got the book. A friend from Campbellsville asked whether I knew about Errors and Omissions. When I confessed my ignorance, he vowed to deliver it to my door the following morning. And he did.
Two main elements drive any good novel -- character and plot. In "E & O" both are so woven into such a complete fabric that the resulting tapestry is subject to the chiaroscuro effect of light and shadow much as the elements of life are inextricably twirled together into an ever changing, indefinable whole. And there is no big Truth here -- just a bunch of little truths and facts for the artist, the lawyer, the photographer, the studio head.
Here is Michael Seeley the brilliant, intellectual property lawyer facing disbarment for appearing drunk in a judge's chambers.
His New York law firm gives him one final chance at redemption when Hollywood studio Universal Pictures requires that he fly to the west coast to prove the studio owns the rights to a James Bond-like movie with sequels. The sequence of films is the only cash cow Universal owns.
Seeley cannot confirm that the studio owns the rights to the original. It appears that ownership belongs to photographer Bert Cobb who was once employed by the studio. Cobb refuses on principle to relinquish rights, just as Seeley cannot, also on principle, sign a false document certifying studio ownership.
Here is Mayer Bermann, head of United Pictures finding Spykiller in his archives in 1963 to compete with the popular James Bond films of that era. Spykiller is a noir film from the 1950's which becomes the source for the ten sequels.
Problem is that no contract with the writer exists, not even the casual note scrawled on a dinner napkin of lore. Meanwhile a Supreme Court decision has given rights to free-lance writers rather than studios when no evidence of a contract exists. Half of Universal's library is in jeopardy.
Photographer Bert Cobb refuses to sell his rights and assign them to the studio and his refusal costs him his life. We learn that he refuses because he didn't write the screenplay.
Here is Max Kanarek who had been whisked out of Hollywood by Bermann in the flush of the red scare and the black list of the McCarthy days. Had Kanarek been betrayed by Bermann as the lone real communist in the movie industry? Was it Bermann who altered Spykiller to change the villain from ally to communist to shift the nexus of evil?
Seeley follows the trail of Kanarek the artist who did write the screenplay to Poland where he now lives and where he was the childhood friend of Bermann in the Nazi years.
The depth of the personal issues beneath this sketch suggests the Bottomless Pit in Mammoth Cave with only torches to illuminate the stygian dark.
I rarely find a book these days that is impossible to lay aside for food and drink. Errors and Omissions is such a book, however.
Let me cite a few virtues in which it revels: life-long and unmitigated evil and selfishness; stupidity leading to fatal, gratuitous violence; commitment to principle in the face of death for one's self and one's loved ones; and the ego of an attorney so large, he does damage to his client's cause as well as his own career.
For more than thirty years Paul Goldstein has taught intellectual property law at Stanford Law School. He's been writing stories since he was twelve years old. This combination of honed skill with the pen and a sure sense of legal intricacy makes me hanker for more. Fortunately we have another Seeley novel now on the market.
Listen to this sample of Goldstein's style. When Seeley leaves Bermann's mansion in the hills he looks down over Los Angeles.
"Cloaked in a deep, inky blue, the city stretched out below him like a cascade of diamonds on a wash of coal. The lights of the silently moving traffic mirrored the lights in the jet black sky. When had he ever seen stars like this? .... There was a current of sound beneath the silence."
It is that sound beneath the silence which makes Errors and Omissions such a satisfying experience, and which makes me want more of Professor Goldstein's work. I have already ordered the next one.
Tom Chaney can be found telling stories, planning his next meal, and occasionally selling books at
Box 73 / 111 Water Street
Horse Cave, Kentucky 42749
Email: Tom Chaney
This story was posted on 2013-09-22 04:22:03
Printable: this page is now automatically formatted for printing.
Have comments or corrections for this story? Use our contact form and let us know.
To sponsor news and features on ColumbiaMagazine, please use our contact form.
More articles from topic Tom Chaney: Of Writers and Their Books:
Tom Chaney: Nigh Perfect Food
Tom Chaney: So Jesus Found His Missing Years
Tom Chaney: Does the Cut Worm Forgive the Plow?
Tom Chaney: Why Not Peace?
Tom Chaney: Roast Pig and Charles Lamb
Tom Chaney: Beyond the Light of Day
Tom Chaney: The Man Standing Next To Us
Tom Chaney: Slow Years of Wasteful War
Tom Chaney: Traipsing Through Georgia
Tom Chaney: Prey Tale Us
View even more articles in topic Tom Chaney: Of Writers and Their Books
Click for Info
Bank of Columbia
If You're Thinking of Selling,
Let Us Do the Yelling
Principal Broker & Auctioneer
Burton Real Estate
& Auction Service
Call Us For Appraisals
Click for Listings
On This Site
or Click Here
Columbia in the Movies
from the archives of
Click for Stories
The Best of
Local Stories of
The Greatest Generation
Order Book or e-Book
See who's celebrating
Birthdays and Anniversaries
Special Events List
Find Great Stuff in
Antiques, Help Wanted,
Autos, Real Estate,
Legal Notices, More...
ColumbiaMagazine.com content is available as an RSS/XML feed for your RSS reader or other news aggregator.
Contact us: Columbia Magazine and columbiamagazine.com are published by D'Zine, Ltd., PO Box 906, Columbia, KY 42728.