Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Deadline in Athens

I think I'll read Deadline in Athens by Petros Markaris next for three reasons: I've never read a crime novel set in Greece, I just received a note from an old colleague in Athens, and I have a certain morbid curiosity about stories that deal with my profession.

Why in God's name, I wondered, would anyone want to write about the shriveling and desperate world of newspapers? Here in the U.S., at least, the industry is under assault from the Internet, semi-literacy, greed, complacency, self-importance, stupidity and mismanagement, with predictable results: Big papers shed staff and salaries and bring the law of supply and demand into ruthless play when they do hire. Content is dumbed down past the vanishing point and, possibly most tiresome of all, journalistic pundits hold forth on the state of the business, with the predictable rejoinders from anti-pundits eager to make a name for themselves with predictions that go against the grain.

I suppose someone could write an exciting story about contemporary American newspapers, difficult though it may be to find drama in a world where the word content is taken seriously. I mean, perhaps my memory fails me, but I don't recall the word cropping up in Jonathan Latimer's The Lady in the Morgue or in The Harder They Fall or in any of the versions of The Front Page. Maybe, just maybe, I thought, the situation is less dire elsewhere. Maybe newspapers still matter across the seas.

If they do, though, I probably won't find out from Deadline in Athens (God, the title sounds traditional, like the old Humphrey Bogart movie Deadline U.S.A.) or from another novel on my list, Batya Gur's Murder in Jerusalem. It transpires that each has a considerable segment set in the world of news -- TV news. God, I hate television "journalists." They're ambitious, they dress better than I do, they speak and write considerably worse, and they steal my terminology. Headline News, my arse! No television newscast ever had a "headline." You superficial sons of bitches have stolen my relevance; the least you could do is leave me my language.

Reviews of the books at 11.

© Peter Rozovsky 2007

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8 Comments:

Blogger Euro Crime said...

The UK title was 'The Late-night News'. I've got the follow-up on my tbr. I read a few pages but it didn't grab me at the time - I was in my chicken pox phase - so must go back to it.

January 31, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Peter,
As you probably notice, my name is greek... but I didn't now Petros Markaris. Good reason to start reading him...
Evanthia (good flower)

January 31, 2007  
Blogger Peter said...

I didn't know what your name meant, but the explanation makes sense. I knew that "ev" meant good, and "anther" is the name for part of a flower. ευχαριστώ!

January 31, 2007  
Blogger sauron said...

Your blog is very good...
I will link it on my blog!
www.jazzalnero.blogspot.com

February 01, 2007  
Blogger Peter said...

And I will create a link to your blog later tonight, and maybe practice my Italian and try to make another post!

February 01, 2007  
Blogger sauron said...

GRANDE!!

February 02, 2007  
Blogger Peter said...

Thanks, Karen. I knew the novel had a different title in the UK, but I'd forgotten what it was. The difference in titles is interesting. The Late-Night News, in addition to whatever smoky, noirish overtones it may have, sounds like the title of a television newscast. Deadline in Athens, on the other hand, is pure nostalgia for newspaper movies, Americans' typical nostalgia for things they are killing off.

February 04, 2007  
Blogger Peter said...

Gia ho creato il link, Sauron.

Sto leggendo (in traduzione inglese) L'odore della Notte de Andrea Camilleri. Spero presto di lasciare un commento.

February 04, 2007  

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