Thursday, August 02, 2007

Turn off the TV, and pick up a book

Sarah Weinman of Confessions of an Idiosyncratic Mind links to a 1978 article from Time about the state of crime fiction.

She quotes three paragraphs, of which one especially might make readers of this blog feel good:

It is a truism nonetheless that future historians may get their surest handle on today's world by studying Martin Beck's Stockholm, the Amsterdam of Van der Valk and Grijpstra, the England of Merle Capricorn and Adam Dalgliesh, Inspector Ghote's Bombay, José Da Silva's Rio, the Manhattan of Inspector Schmidt and Detective Steve Carella, Fred Fellows' Connecticut, Sam Spade's San Francisco and Travis McGee's Florida.
I got a special kick of seeing Janwillem van de Wetering's Grijpstra mentioned, though it was odd to see Grijpstra's name without that of his partner, De Gier. But my favorite sentence in the article is one that seeks to explain the popularity of mysteries. Though written in 1978, it is just as true today:

They are the insomniac's solace, the commuter's opiate, everymitty's escape from idiot box and cuckoo's nest.

© Peter Rozovsky 2007



Blogger Dave Knadler said...

That pretty well sums it up for me. Were it not for crime fiction and crosswords, I'd never sleep a wink.

August 02, 2007  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Reading crime fiction is also something to do when you just can't drag yourself out of the bath tub.

Two more things to notice about the Time article are the writers cited (P.D. James, Joe Gores, and some now-unknowns among them), and the book prices -- $7.95 for a hardcover.

August 03, 2007  
Blogger Lauren said...

Crime fiction is also an excellent remedy for a brain numbed by too much continental aesthetic theory - or perhaps that's just me!

Given that tenuous link to academia, I thought you might be interested in the details of a semi-recent conference in Ireland all about crime fiction. (Ken Bruen featured prominently). I've got the info somewhere, if you'd like to see it.

August 04, 2007  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

No, I suspect that many among us have had our brains numbed by too much continental aesthetic theory.

Fred Vargas (I've mentioned her a time or two recently) gives learning a good name and also takes a jab or two at aesthetic pomposity in Have Mercy On Us All, by the way. And yes, I'd be curious about that Ireland conference. Thanks.

August 04, 2007  
Blogger Lauren said...

I've read some Fred Vargas, but not that particular title, so I'll have to take a look. I'm also rather fond of Paola Brunetti's take on academia, though I'm not that disenchanted yet!

Anyway, here's a link to a doc file with the conference programme. Wish I could have been there myself. (Just like I wish I could have made it to Byron Bay last week. I was even there on Monday. *sigh*)

August 07, 2007  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Lauren, that Byron Bay conference had some attractive panels (I highlighted two of them in a comment at The second one I mention would have fit well on the program of the Limerick conference.) And thanks for the program.

I see you've noticed my enthusiasm for Fred Vargas. I've now read Have Mercy On Us All and Wash This Blood Clean From My Hand. My copies of Seeking Whom He May Devour and The Three Evangelists are on the way. What have you read of hers?

I have not read Donna Leon, though I have one ready to read. I know more about Paola Brunetti's take on food, particularly fish, than I do about her take on academia. Amanda Cross' Kate Fansler has views of academia and academics that you might enjoy.

August 07, 2007  

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