Tuesday, November 30, 2010

A glimpse of the Brighton Rock remake.

Richard Attenborough as
gangster Pinkie Brown in
Brighton Rock (1947,
dir. John Boulting)
The Guardian offers a sneak peek at the remake of Graham Greene's Brighton Rock, which stars Helen Mirren and John Hurt, and is expected to be released on February 4 in the United Kingdom.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Wilde's "Lord Arthur Savile's Crime" this week on BBC Radio 7.

Oscar Wilde, ca. 1882. Library
of Congress, Prints and
Photographs Division
This week on BBC Radio 7, Lord Arthur Savile is told that he is destined to commit a murder, so he decides to attend to it—right away. Michael Maloney reads Oscar Wilde's lively work. Go here for the schedule or to listen online; episodes can usually be heard for a week after broadcast.

Read W. B. Yeats's review of Lord Arthur Savile's Crime and Other Stories (1891): "Surely we have in this story ["Lord Arthur"] something of the same spirit that filled Ireland once with gallant, irresponsible ill-doing..."

Friday, November 26, 2010

Women in H. Rider Haggard.

In the latest issue of Nineteenth-Century Gender Studies, University of Georgia's Elizabeth Lee Steere discusses the portrayal of women in African-set works of H. Rider Haggard, including King Solomon's Mines (1885), Allan Quatermain (1887), and Allan's Wife (1889).

Also of interest: Cheryl Blake Price's review of Elizabeth Carolyn Miller's Framed: The New Woman Criminal in British Culture at the Fin de Siècle, which mentions mystery author L. T. Meade (1844–1914).

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Conan Doyle visits Kipling, Thanksgiving 1894.

Rudyard Kipling, c. 1897
Library of Congress, Prints
and Photographs Division
In Rudyard Kipling: Hell and Heroism (2005), William B. Dillingham reports that Arthur Conan Doyle, who was in the United States on a lecture tour, visited Rudyard Kipling in Brattleboro, VT, over Thanksgiving 1894, but it appears all was not serene over the turkey and cranberry sauce:
Arthur Conan Doyle
Library of Congress,
Prints and Photographs
Conan Doyle . . . tried to persuade Rudyard to be kinder in his remarks about America. They argued a good deal but parted on good terms thanks to the determination of both men to be as reasonable and generous as possible. Conan Doyle's attitude . . . was that Kipling was misguided but that he could bring him around. . . . Kipling told [H.] Rider Haggard . . . that he "got nothing from [Conan Doyle]." (303) 
Adds Dillingham, "What appears to have alienated [Kipling] the most was Conan Doyle's immeasurable gullibleness" (303).

Conan Doyle had a rosier view of the visit, as he recounted in Memories and Adventures (1924): "I had two great days in Vermont, and have a grateful remembrance of Mrs Kipling's hospitality . . . We parted good friends" (220).

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The mystery library of artist Donald Judd.

The Message in the Sand
, by Frances K.
Judd. University of
Maryland Libraries
Special Collections
The very cool interactive library of New York- and Texas-based artist Donald Judd (1928–94) allows the online researcher to click on shelves to see their contents as well as perform more typical searches by author, title, and subject. Mystery-related items include several novels by Raymond Chandler, The Complete Edgar Allan Poe, The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins, and The Message in the Sand Dunes (1938, one of the Kay Tracey mysteries) by Frances K. Judd (a pseudonym of Mildred Wirt Benson, best known for writing several of the Nancy Drew mysteries).

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Chester Gould and other Oklahoma cartoonists.

Chester Gould's
Dick Tracy,
ca. 1953
A few sample panels available online from the Oklahoma History Center's exhibition "The Uncanny Adventures of Okie Cartoonists" feature, among others, Chester Gould's Dick Tracy, Bill Mauldin, and—especially for Bill Crider—Kevin Stark's Geezer Comics.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Killer nun?

In the context of Craig A. Monson's new book Nuns Behaving Badly: Tales of Music, Magic, Art, and Arson in the Convents of Italy, the University of Chicago Press blog offers a few film clips depicting representations of nuns on film, including Anita Ekberg in Killer Nun (dir. Giulio Berruti, 1978).

Friday, November 19, 2010

More yellowbacks for Emory.

Cover of Mary Elizabeth
Braddon's The Fatal Three
(ca. 1890). Emory Libraries
Emory's Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library has announced the acquisition of 4,000 yellowbacks from Cleveland's Chester Topp; these will supplement its existing yellowback collection of nearly 1,300 titles. This is welcome news for those who love Victorian sensation works because Emory will digitize them for its online catalog (which includes images); one significant piece from Topp's collection is the first paperback edition of Dracula. Sadly, however, the collection will take about three years to catalog.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Braddon, Corelli in The Latchkey.

Marie Corelli. NYPL
The Latchkey: Journal of New Woman Studies has new essays on sensation masters Mary Elizabeth Braddon and Marie Corelli. I'm particularly entertained by the Latchkey's column "The Whine Cellar," which features antifeminist diatribes from the turn of the century.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The apartment in film noir and other genres.

Jimmy Stewart in
Rear Window
The Apartment Plot by Notre Dame's Pamela Robertson Wojcik analyzes the role of the urban apartment from 1945 to 1975 in film noir and other genres. The book includes discussion of Rear Window (dir. Alfred Hitchcock, writ. Cornell Woolrich and John Michael Hayes, 1954).

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Happy birthday, Michael Arlen.

John Irving, left, and
Ralph Clanton in "The
Gentleman from America,"
Alfred Hitchcock Presents
Michael Arlen—best known for The Green Hat (1924) and the series of films featuring the Robin Hood figure The Falcon (with George Sanders and his brother, Tom Conway)—was born today in Bulgaria in 1895. Several of his works involve murder and crime, especially those with Michael Wagstaffe. Hell! Said the Duchess (1934) features a supernatural being framing the duchess of the title for murder. The Alfred Hitchcock Presents episode "The Gentleman from America," in which a man bets that he can stay in a room that reputedly is haunted, is based on an Arlen short story from The Omnibus of Crime (ed. Dorothy L. Sayers, 1929). Arlen's son, former New Yorker writer Michael J. Arlen, discusses his father in Exiles (1970).

Monday, November 15, 2010

John le Carré on Writers & Company.

Eleanor Wachtel of CBC's Writers & Company interviews John le Carré about his new book Our Kind of Traitor (part 1 here, part 2 here) and writes about le Carré's Cornwall residence here.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Residences of Poe, Alcott, et al.

Jack London. Library
of Congress, Prints and
Photographs Division
On this podcast, Oberlin's Anne Trubek discusses her book A Skeptic's Guide to Writers' Houses, which include her journeys to Edgar Allan Poe's various residences, Louisa May Alcott's Orchard House, Jack London's home, and more.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Best Minnesota mysteries:
Mabel Seeley, Thomas Gifford.

The blog 150 Best Minnesota Books opens a conversation on Minnesota whodunits, mentioning Mabel Seeley's The Chuckling Fingers (1941) and Thomas Gifford's The Wind Chill Factor (1975), Seeley's The Listening House (1938) appears on the Haycraft-Queen Cornerstone list of essential mystery works. Gifford (1937–2000) was an Edgar nominee for The Cavanaugh Quest (1976). Seeley (1903–91) served on MWA's first board of directors, and four of her works are back in print thanks to Afton Historical Society Press.

For more on recommended Minnesota literature, see this Star Tribune article, which quotes former mystery bookseller Steve Stilwell.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

A Boston murder; the pioneering Gothic career of Charles Brockden Brown.

Charles Brockden Brown.
NEH's Humanities Magazine discusses an 1849 murder of a Harvard-educated doctor in Boston and Gothic novelist Charles Brockden Brown (1771–1810), who may be the first professional writer in the United States. (You can also check out Brown's works in the Library Company of Philadelphia's online exhibition "Philadelphia Gothic").

(Hat tip to the AHA blog)

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Books about books: Bruccoli on Chandler, Sansom.

The Fine Books Blog offers a list of recommended books about books published in the past year, which includes On Books and Writers: Selected Essays by the late Fitzgerald specialist Matthew J. Bruccoli (which includes an essay on Chandler) and Ian Sansom's The Bad Book Affair: A Mobile Library Mystery. (Hat tip to PhiloBiblos)

Monday, November 08, 2010

Philip K. Dick this week on BBC Radio 7; neglected sci fi

This week, BBC Radio 7 features Philip K. Dick's Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (made by Ridley Scott into the film Blade Runner). Go here for the schedule; episodes generally can be heard online for a week after broadcast.

Also of interest: Orson Scott Card in a November 3 online discussion with the Washington Post; writers and scientists select neglected science fiction.

Friday, November 05, 2010

Happy 5th birthday, The Bunburyist.

It's hard to believe that five years ago, I posted for the first time on this blog. My idea was to feature mystery history--particularly print, radio, and video pieces; archival items; and exhibitions that might not be on people's radar screens. I was especially concerned that little accurate information exists on the Internet on works such as those on the Haycraft-Queen Cornerstone list, which does not assist potential readers or the mystery field in general.

I don't really know the impact of The Bunburyist, as I do not receive much feedback, which makes me wonder if I should continue it.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Where's your locker, shamus? The film Brick.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt
in Brick (2005)
I had long wanted to see the film Brick (dir. Rian Johnson, 2005), for I had heard that it was an interesting cross between the teen flick and film noir, and I was not disappointed.

Loner Brendan (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) sets out to discover what led to the death of his troubled ex-girlfriend Emily (Emilie de Ravin). Assisted by his aptly named friend Brain (Matt O'Leary), Brendan descends into a harrowing subculture headed by quirky drug dealer "The Pin" (Lukas Haas in a Sidney Greenstreet turn), whose headquarters is his rec room (don't miss the scene in which The Pin's cheery mom serves Brendan apple juice and cornflakes after he has been beaten by The Pin's henchman, who is obviously based on Elijah Cook Jr.).

An intriguing character is Kara (Meagan Good), who spends her time in the drama club and thus suggests the double-crossing nightclub femme fatale (that is, always playing a role). Another highlight (albeit brief) is Richard Roundtree (best known as John Shaft in Shaft) as the vice principal, which seems to resemble Ward Bond's role in The Maltese Falcon.

Those well versed in the genre will be able to guess the perpetrator, but that does not diminish the touching, unwavering determination of Brendan to see that Emily is not forgotten, in the best tradition of the Chandleresque lone knight on the mean streets.

Brick is available on DVD. For other takes on the film:
Bill Crider
Roger Ebert
Entertainment Weekly
• The Guardian
Radio Times
Rian Johnson talks about Brick in the Independent 

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Father Andrew Greeley: Some improvement reported.

It's good to learn from the latest posting on Father Andrew Greeley's Web site that he is now getting around via a walker after his accident in 2008. However, the 82-year-old creator of Blackie Ryan and Nuala McGrail is unable to write and has some difficulty in speaking. Father Greeley does have a new nonfiction book out: Chicago Catholics and Their Struggles within Their Church.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Depeche Mode's Vince Clarke: Book reviewer?

As the NYPL blog reveals, Depeche Mode's Vince Clarke may be the book reviewer we've all been waiting for. A few excerpts:

• On Philip K. Dick's A Scanner Darkly:
"F----in' weird."

• On Ray Bradbury's A Sound of Thunder
"My 'addiction to fiction' began right here."

• On John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath:
"The last sentence makes me cry (every time)."

Monday, November 01, 2010

Anna Katharine Green, Wilkie Collins this week on BBC Radio 7.

Wilkie Collins, bet. 1880
and 1890. Library of
Congress, Prints and
Photographs Division.
Some transatlantic sleuthing this week on BBC Radio 7's The Lady Detectives: "The Golden Slipper" (1915) by American bestseller Anna Katharine Green (one of the earliest US female college graduates) features New York socialite Violet Strange, who investigates thefts within her glittering social circle; and a wife in the British Wilkie Collins's The Law and the Lady (1875) endeavors to clear her husband of a murder charge. Episodes can be heard online for a week after broadcast.