Who uses it: Money launderers
What it means: Structuring financial transactions to avoid federal reporting requirements (keeping cash transactions under $10,000, or wire transfers under $3,000)
How you can use it: To explain why your bank deposits are always so small. It's not that you don't have the money, you're just smurfing...
The irony of smurfing -- and one more piece of evidence that criminals are not always the smartest people in a population -- is that someone making a deposit for $9,995 is likely to get more attention than someone who makes a deposit for $12,000 and fills out the paperwork.
Anyone who knows me knows that I am not the world's most graceful person, but I've been unusually clumsy the last few days. I stepped wrong off a curb yesterday, while out with Dizzy, and took a tumble... and then I cut the tip of my right index finger while changing a light bulb (I swear, I wasn't holding it that hard; it just broke). It's ridiculously hard to type with a cut on the tip of one's index finger, so I have been improvising a seven-finger method that is more trouble than it's worth. Annoying. (Oh, and before you ask, it's not alcohol-related... I'm taking antibiotics the size of Mike-and-Ikes.)
In the meantime, here's
What I Read This Week
Megan Abbott, Die a Little. The next time I hear someone ask, "Why don't women write noir?", I'll give them a copy of this book. In 1950s Los Angeles, schoolteacher Lora King feels uneasy about her new sister-in-law, Alice -- and winds up drawn into a world that challenges her deepest beliefs about her brother and herself. Abbott gives us a vivid picture of 1950s suburbia, as well as two unforgettable characters in Lora and Alice. Die a Little got an Edgar nomination for Best First Novel, and it's well-deserved.
Alexander McCall Smith, In the Company of Cheerful Ladies. I've been a fan of this series, set in modern Botswana, since the first book, The Number One Ladies Detective Agency. My mother loved them. Maybe that's why this book didn't please me as much as the earlier ones did. I thought I was getting tired of Mma Ramotswe and her tiny van and her husband, the mechanic J.L.B. Matekoni, but maybe it's just that I won't get to discuss this book with Mom. Some of the pleasure of it is gone.
Arnaldur Indridason, Jar City. It's a measure of how out-of-control my reading stack is that this book was a birthday present, from my pals at The Mystery Bookstore, and I just got around to it this week. It is a very dark police procedural, set in Reyjavik, and the first of Indridason's novels to be translated into English. The police detective Erlendur investigates the murder of a man who turns out to be a rapist, and his investigation wreaks havoc among those who were the murdered man's victims. Jar City is beautiful and sad, and Arnaldur (Icelanders don't use last names, I learned from this book) is a writer to watch.
Elizabeth Crane, All This Heavenly Glory. A series of linked short stories -- some first-person, some third-person -- about Charlotte Anne Byers, who grows up in New York and struggles to find her way before achieving an unexpected but hard-earned happy ending. Charlotte's story is so much like my own, and like those of so many of my friends, that it astonished me to find a book that thought it was worth documenting: the Crissy doll whose hair we cut off, the Lacoste shirts in prep school, the obsessing over totally inappropriate men, the peculiar social structure of an urban neighborhood. Crane writes so beautifully, and is so funny and compassionate, that at the end of this book I wanted to send her an e-mail and invite her out for coffee. She's a friend of my friend Tod's, so maybe I will.