November 22, 2007

Fun with Fan Mail! I've been getting some pretty fun and sometimes outrageous mail on The P'Town Murders (and keep it up!) One of them even had a marriage proposal (for me, not Bradford, and yes, I'm still considering your offer. Give me till Sunday.)

A recent note from a P'Town native took me to task for a number of factual errors in the book. This man is the reader I've both dreaded and longed for--one astute enough to catch the book's weaknesses and yet smart and generous enough to enjoy it regardless. For instance, he pointed out a mention of killer whales off the P'Town Fast Ferry. While there have been instances of killer whale sightings off Provincetown, they're a rarity. The reason for this is that killer whales prefer colder water (as in, Alaska.) Unfortunately I took the word of a highly excitable former boyfriend on this, who enticed me to Provincetown for the first time in 1991 with tales of seeing killer whales on a whale watch tour. Obviously I should have researched this better--both the subject and the boyfriend, as it turns out.

The reader also noted some colloquialisms I'd missed--for instance, a native would say "Route 6", not "Interstate 6" or even "I-6" (which to my mind reads "One-six.") (As a Canadian, this was news to me.) And one would never, he assures me, talk about the "north end" of town. (So how would you tell someone how to get to Race Point Beach, for example?)

He also pointed out that there is no coroner's office in town. I had already done the research to establish that fact, but I felt it dramatically right and necessary to keep Bradford in town after he views Ross's body one last time. To make him travel off-cape seemed to be lacking in human as well as poetic sensibility.

My favourite note was where the reader berated me for my comments on how the Pilgrims had intended to bring "the ideals of freedom and democracy to the new land" (p. 186) as swallowing the "Pilgrims' original mission hook, line and sinker." Happily, I can say I was being sarcastic on that one.

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