Sunday, February 10, 2008

The crime side of "serious" fiction

A pair of professors from Amherst College are the latest to notice that "serious" fiction has a crime side. Or did they notice that crime fiction has a serious side? You can decide when you read their article in The Chronicle of Higher Education.

The piece is a series of one-paragraph mock newspaper articles in the style of a roundup of crime news. I got a special kick out of the following, for reasons that will be obvious to readers who remember this, this and this from Detectives Beyond Borders:


Prince Runs Amok; Many Feared Dead

(Elsinore, Denmark) – The heir to the Danish throne went on a rampage yesterday, killing, it is feared, most of the members of the royal family. Details remain sketchy, but persons close to the scene report that the Danish prince killed his stepfather, the king; one of the king's leading ministers; and the minister's son. The prince's mother also is said to have died in the rampage; the assailant himself was killed in an all-out assault by authorities. The prince, believed to be in his mid-20s, had recently been placed under suicide watch after the death by drowning of his fiancée. A college acquaintance confirmed that the killer had been haunted by visions and nightmares since the death of his father some years ago: "He liked to talk about death and killing and stuff, but no one really took him seriously. He'd been saying the same thing for years." Said another unnamed source, "Everyone knew he was a little off, but he seemed pretty harmless. I guess we were wrong."
You might also like the item about – But why should I ruin the fun? Click on the article, and see which literary classics you recognize from their criminous descriptions. (As a newspaperman, I compliment the professors on their good eye for headlinese, that sometimes weirdly compacted turn of phrase seen only in newspaper headlines.)

(image from http://blogs.warwick.ac.uk/frailtyofhamlet/gallery/shakepictures/)

© Peter Rozovsky 2008

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8 Comments:

Blogger Linkmeister said...

Either they did too good a job concealing the allusions or I'm not as literate as I thought (hubristically?). I recognized three or four of those cases, but that's only about half.

Arrgh.

February 10, 2008  
Blogger Peter said...

I didn't recognize all of them, either!

February 10, 2008  
Blogger A Paperback Writer said...

This Hamlet one if funny, but the author hasn't checked the script for awhile. Hamlet's got to be 29 or 30 at the very youngest (based on what the gravedigger says) and his father's only been dead a few months, not years.
I may be picky, I prefer my humor with the details correct.

February 10, 2008  
Blogger Peter said...

Their times were out of joint!

February 10, 2008  
Blogger Simona said...

I am curious about the ones I don't recognize, like the one called Paralegal Seized and Socialite Slain.

February 11, 2008  
Blogger Peter said...

I recognized one of those from my college days. The other, I had to look up. The location mentioned in the news item should have been my clue!

I can give you a single hint that will cover both, if you'd like.

February 11, 2008  
Blogger Simona said...

sure, I'd like a hint.

February 15, 2008  
Blogger Peter said...

OK. Both are from works by iconic American authors, but only one is from its author's best-known work.

February 15, 2008  

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