Tuesday, March 18, 2014

America: Red, white, and noir; plus a question for readers

He ran with “bad company.” At 14 years of age, he wrote, "the whole care and direction of my self was thrown on my self entirely, without a relation … to advise or guide me.”

She was "a risk taker given to impulsive behavior and bad decisions — traits that were passed on to her son — took up with James, despite his “indigent circumstances” and the fact that she was still legally married to Lavien."

He was Thomas Jefferson, she Rachel Faucette, mother of Alexander Hamilton, and the quotations are taken from John Ferling, Jefferson and Hamilton: The Rivalry That Forged a Nation. Even before Hamilton died, paralyzed and suffering following his duel with Aaron Burr, the lives of the Founding Fathers were ripe with hard-boiled material.

And now, dear readers, it's your turn. What characters, circumstances, or events from history would make good hard-boiled or crime stories?

© Peter Rozovsky 2014

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28 Comments:

Blogger RT said...

Christopher Marlowe's death under mysterious circumstances deserves special consideration.

March 18, 2014  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Not just his death but also his life, from what I understand. He's a good choice.

March 18, 2014  
Blogger RT said...

There is a novel out there -- I think by Anthony Burgess (of Clockwork Orange fame), and there may be others. But a hard-boiled treatment is in order. Perhaps you should write it.

March 18, 2014  
Blogger RT said...

FYI
http://www.fantasticfiction.co.uk/b/anthony-burgess/dead-man-in-deptford.htm

March 18, 2014  
Blogger seana graham said...

RT, I see that your blog has died in the cradle. I didn't see it in time to read the explanation.

I don't have any historical figure ideas at the moment, although there is sure to be a thriller movie made out of the disappearance of that Malaysian airliner, once anything is figured out.

Or even if it isn't.

March 18, 2014  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Second try:

R.T., Burgess took a gamble attempting Elizabethan-style prose. To judge from the opening page, the gamble may have worked. Thanks for bringing this to my attention.

March 18, 2014  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Seana, go here: http://beyondeastrod.blogspot.com/.

I suspect that unless the world is too scared of what might really happened to the airliner, second drafts of scripts for TV movies are already in the words, if that sort of thing is still done.

March 18, 2014  
Blogger RT said...

Seana, my blogging continues at "beyond eastrod."

Peter, Burgess never shied away from experimentation. Sometimes it worked really well. Each of his novels is unique.

March 18, 2014  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

R.T., I have never read Burgess, though I was charmed to read that he used to write for coff in his books when social mores forbade fuck off -- and that he felt something was missing when he was later allowed to use the real words.

March 18, 2014  
Blogger seana graham said...

Glad to hear it, R.T. And glad you popped in here, because I thought Peter was pointing me to Breaking Point as a good case of a historically based crime novel waiting to be written. Which perhaps it is. Or at least a spy thriller.

March 18, 2014  
Blogger RT said...

Yes....whatever happened to Jose Robles is the core of a crime novel waiting to be written. Among characters, Dos Passos is admirable but Hemingway is despicable.

March 18, 2014  
Blogger seana graham said...

"Whatever happened to Jose Robles?" would be a good title, too.

March 18, 2014  
Blogger RT said...

Title: Masque of Red Death

March 18, 2014  
Blogger Cary Watson said...

Well the Rob Ford saga will probably be a film noir fairly shortly, but going back a bit further, Vidocq, arguably the world's first detective, would be a good choice. There was a French film called Vidocq with Gerard Depardieu, but it's a combination of film noir and fantasy.

March 18, 2014  
Blogger seana graham said...

See, you've got it halfway written, RT.

March 18, 2014  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

A search for Breaking Point turned up a first entry that begins thus:

"[The Breaking Point] has the pace and drama of a detective novel."

My list of books to investigate grows, especially since my listening of flamenco music in recent years has brought me into repeated contact with work by and inspired by Garcia Lorca.

March 18, 2014  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Cary, Vidocq already has inspired any number of fictional characters. Rob Ford is such an easy target. Would a movie examine his life more seriously, as I think you have in onw of your blog posts?

March 18, 2014  
Blogger RT said...

The death of Lorca is another mystery novel waiting to be written.

March 18, 2014  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Lorca, and, I believe, his death, are the subject of a current opera. Opera -- there's a blood-soaked art form, if any ever was.

March 18, 2014  
Blogger seana graham said...

I just watched a Shostakovich opera on PBS last night called The Nose. Quite bizarre and yet rather charmingly rendered. Blood -soaked, though, it was not. Which is surprising since it was about a nose that had been cut off.

March 18, 2014  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I saw a clip from "The Nose," maybe on a Metropolitan Opera Web site. I don't think the nose was singing, but the music sounded odd--not unusual in my limited experience with Shostakovich.

Think of "Carmen" as a celebrated crime story.

March 18, 2014  
Blogger seana graham said...

The Nose doesn't sing, but it does dance.

I don't know that much about Shostakovich, but I did read that he didn't think it should be done as a concert, but needed the full opera setting to be appreciated.

March 19, 2014  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I am uploading his Fifth and Ninth Symphonies to this computer as I write.

I imagine a dancing nose would come across better staged than merely played.

March 19, 2014  
Blogger seana graham said...

Here's a little clip of Shostakovich at a rehearsal of it in 1975. It's not as elaborate a production of it as the one I watched this week, but there is the bonus of watching him sing a long with it as he watches at about 4:35.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mjK7Hnxpmsg

March 19, 2014  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Thanks. While I do that, you might look for some music he wrote for a Russian film version of Hamlet. The ghost music, you might not be surprised to learn, is especially stirring.

March 19, 2014  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Quite an experience seeing one of our great composers looking like someone's hard-working uncle or grandfather. And he's not just humming along, he look likes he's trying by force of will to make the rehearsal go well--like a parent during a child's recital. He looks uncomfortable during the post-rehearsal interview segment. I wish I knew Russian so I could understand what was begin discussed.

March 19, 2014  
Blogger seana graham said...

Yes, it's rather poignant, isn't it? One of the commenters below noted that it was the year he died.

March 19, 2014  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I knew that must have been recorded near the end of his life. And I know he had an odd relationship with Soviet officialdom. All this was in the back of my mind as I heard him speak and watched him look away from the camera.

March 19, 2014  

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