Sunday, March 18, 2012

True Lies

By Chris F. Holm

Trust. A loaded topic if ever there was one, particularly for a cadre of professional liars to kick around.

This probably won’t come as much surprise to anyone who’s read my fiction, but I ain’t exactly the trusting sort. Not that I started out the cynical bastard I am today. I was once a pie-eyed, trusting kid; my worldview's hard-earned. I’ve met my share of hucksters, fiends, and outright unreliables in life. I’ve been knocked around both literally and figuratively by folks who were supposed to have my back; I’ve been betrayed by friends; I’ve been let down by heroes, partners, and confidantes. (That, or I'm fortunate enough to've lived a relatively charmed existence, free from strife, so I was forced to manufacture some deep-seated trust-issues for the purpose of this blog post. I am a professional liar, after all.)

So you wanna know who I trust? I trust those selfsame professional liars. As Michael mentioned in his post, the trick to trust is to do so wisely and well, and he ain’t wrong the words “Trust me” ain’t often uttered by the trustworthy. Well, if that’s the case, then maybe the reverse is true. So color fiction my Bokononism, ’cause as far as I’m concerned, fiction’s just lies to live by.

I trust Chandler when he tells me dead men are heavier than broken hearts, and I hope to God I never have the opportunity to prove him wrong.

When Christie suggests that very few of us are what we seem, I take her at her word.

Thanks to Joseph Heller, I’m convinced it’s possible to buy eggs for seven cents, sell them for for five cents, and make a tidy profit.

Doyle’s edict that if I eliminate the impossible, then whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth sure rings true to me.

Though I’ve no idea what the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything is, I’m certain Douglas Adams will be proven right in his assertion that the answer is 42. (That dude really knew where his towel was.)

Le Carré, a professional liar in more than one respect, once told me a desk is a dangerous place from which to view the world, and I believe him.

And when Vonnegut instructed the babies of the world, “God damn it, you’ve got to be kind,” I knew he was a liar I could get behind.

So there you have it: I trust the liars. And you know what? So far, the liars have done right by me. After all, every now and again, life's bound to let you down, but fiction never will. Trust me on that one.

Oh, and speaking of lies, if you’d like to read some more of mine, my debut novel DEAD HARVEST is on sale now. In it, you’ll find ten tips to a flatter stomach, pointers on getting rich by placing tiny classified ads in newspapers all over the country, and the recipe for my one-step foolproof lo-cal Hollandaise.


Joshua Corin said...

What a enjoyable post.

It reminded me, actually, of the title of Lawrence Block's how-to-write opus: TELLING LIES FOR FUN AND PROFIT.

Chris said...

Thanks, Joshua!

Block's book, to me, is one of the few how-tos worth a damn in this business. Marvelously matter-of-fact about the craft.

Hilary Davidson said...

Terrific post, Chris! I'm not just saying that because of the Bokononism reference... though I am a longtime Vonnegut fan. You've also reminded me that I have to read some John Le Carré — that feels like a huge gap in my reading of professional liars.

So glad to have you on Criminal Minds!

Chris said...

Thanks, Hilary! I confess, I'm late to the Le Carré camp myself, having only started reading him a few years back, with THE SPY WHO CAME IN FROM THE COLD. It didn't take me long to fall in love, and I've been working through his catalog ever since. I suspect you'd like him quite a lot.

Michael Wiley said...

That's a great list of trustable liars, Chris. I'm especially partial to Chandler and Le Carre.

Chris said...

That doesn't exactly shock me, Michael...

lil Gluckstern said...

So I just downloaded your book because I like to think that someone who admits to telling lies for and profit is going to show me a good time--and your reviews are great. All kidding aside, I liked your post, and I'd like to trust that you guys will please me. I may have already said that this week. I do enjoy this blog.

Chris said...

Thanks! Enjoy!