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Seldom Disappointed: 12/09/18
Seldom Disappointed by Tony Hillerman is a memoir by the creator the Navajo Mystery series, published seven years before his death. A slim volume, it still manages to cover childhood, WWII, early career as a newspaper reporter, being a parent, and settling into a career as an author.
Oddly, I find memoirs by people whose work I'm interested in the most difficult to read. For whatever reason, their books never seem to spend enough time on the bits I'm most curious about. That's certainly the case here.
Much of the book — a good third at least — is spent on Hillerman's experience in WWII. Of course he was part of the generation that fought in the war. He was one of ones who signed up, rather than being drafted. But his youthful enthusiasm and patriotism — all the reasons that went into him making the decision to enlist don't translate well to book form.
In fact much of the book is rather dry and tedious to read.
The most interesting bits of book are how he got into being a journalist, his decision to adopt, a story about the time that his son and friend got separated from him during a fishing trip, and finally the mystery series he's most known for.
It was most fascinating to learn how Jim Chee came into being — as a way to get some control over the series after Hillerman sold the rights to his earliest books to Hollywood for a movie and then a television series — described in the planning stages as Hawaii 5-0 but with Indians. It was also a chance to do a better job at character creation after all the goofs he made with Joe Leaphorn.
That said, it was frankly a relief to finish the book.