Last Week’s Links

He Fixes Cracked Spines, Without an Understudy

A wonderful story about Donald Vass, who cares for damanged books for the King County Public Library system near Seattle, WA. At age 57, Voss is approaching retirement age, but there’s no one to take his place.

NOT MY SHERLOCK

There was a lot of discussion on my Facebook feed about how bad the first episode of the new season of BBC’s drama Sherlock was. I don’t watch the show, so I can’t comment. Here, dedicated Holmes fan Brittany Cavallaro discusses how the making of a series from a canon of self-contained stories affects the way the persona of Sherlock Holmes is presented.

Sherlock’s New World Order

Josephine Livingstone uses that first of the season’s Sherlock episode as a springboard to a larger discussion of the role of detective fiction in society:

Murder mystery detectives usually live on the outskirts of society, or they pass unnoticed (Miss Marple, Father Brown) under the noses of authority. But that very outsider status depends on a stability at the middle of society. That stability is now wobbling. For as long as Sherlock can winkingly engage with its own tradition without becoming an absurd relic of a time of lost safety, it will succeed in helping its viewers escape their lives. But if it continues to overreach, to act out its plots on the global stage, the show will fall apart.

Considering the Novel in the Age of Obama

Christian Lorentzen looks at fiction as it represents the cultural times of various American presidents.

What will we mean when someday we refer to Obama Lit? I think we’ll be discussing novels about authenticity, or about “problems of authenticity.” What does that mean? After the Bush years, sheer knowingness and artifice that called attention to itself had come to seem flimsy foundations for the novel. Authenticity succeeded storytelling abundance as the prime value of fiction, which meant that artifice now required plausible deniability. The new problems for the novelist became, therefore, how to be authentic (or how to create an authentic character) and how to achieve “authenticity effects” (or how to make artifice seem as true or truer than the real).

According to Lorentzen, four types of books have sprung from “four strategies of approaching the problem of authenticity”:

  1. autofiction, “narratives that appear to do away with much of fiction’s familiar scaffolding”
  2. fables of meritocracy, “often satiric”
  3. historical novels set in the near past
  4. narratives that “have placed the experience of trauma — rape, pedophilia, homophobic abuse, incarceration, the horrors of war — at their center”

This is a long read, but it’s well worth the time and effort required for the analysis of several recent novels within this framework.

Meryl Streep’s 10 Best Book-Based Movie Roles

In honor of Meryl Streep’s anti-Trump speech, here’s a look at her best book-based movies:

  1. Kramer vs. Kramer
  2. The French Lieutenant’s Woman
  3. Sophie’s Choice
  4. Out of Africa
  5. Ironweed
  6. Postcards from the Edge
  7. The Bridges of Madison County
  8. Adaptation
  9. The Devil Wears Prada
  10. Julie and Julia

I’ve seen eight of these films.

What About You?

How many of these have you seen?

 

© 2017 by Mary Daniels Brown

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