Saturday, July 18, 2015

Book 'em Saturday Random Ten

This past week I read PD James's Talking About Detective Fiction. An interesting topic for me, yes, and one she obviously cares about. The book has at least one strange blind spot, though. In writing about detective fiction from the Golden Age she focuses just about exclusively on Britain. Except for hardboiled authors like Hammett and Chandler, that is. But as for the great eccentric detectives she talks about Margery Allingham's Albert Campion and Edmund Crispin's Gervase Fen, but the name "Rex Stout" never comes up. Nor do the cousins who wrote together as Ellery Queen. Could name others, too. Even John Dickson Carr, a member of the Detection Club who based his British series detective Gideon Fell on CK Chesterton, only gets a one sentence blip in the final chapter.

This seems like an oversight because she analyzes the old fashioned detective story against the social backdrop of class-stratified Britain. Rightly, but the form also thrived in America, which has a less codified social structure, but perhaps more economic ruthlessness.

Anyway, I thought it was interesting enough to bring up. Now, of course, the music.

1. Nellie McKay - Respectable
2. The Beatles - Nowhere Man
3. Beth Custer - This Is Where I Am Now
4. Magnetic Fields - Swinging London
5. Lower Dens - Electric Current
6. Sarah Vaughan - What Kind of Fool Am I
7. St. Vincent - Bring Me Your Loves
8. The Ramones - Too Tough to Die
9. Fitz & the Tantrums - Fools Gold
10. Nat King Cole - Almost Like Being In Love


susan said...

I'd have to surmise that as a very prolific author of an excellent series of mystery novels, PD James most likely didn't have either the time or inclination to read much outside the confines of British detective fiction. She certainly had a huge body of work to choose from and she was intimately familiar with the social dynamics behind certain forms. You're right that a broader overview that included the American authors would have made a most intriguing addition to what sounds like a fascinating book. I've enjoyed so much British detective fiction that I may have to find a copy. I loved the Edmund Crispin books. (I've also been surprised that it's become difficult to find copies of books written by the much more contemporary author Peter Lovesey.)

It's another fine SR10 you have here. Songs like 'Nowhere Man', 'What Kind of Fool Am I', and 'Almost Like Being in Love' are ones I can hear without resorting to a music player. Funny that.

Ben said...

I suppose it was inevitable that she'd have a focus for her book and that some things would fall outside of it. Necessary, perhaps, but I would have been interested on her take on a few things. Lovesey is still writing his Peter Diamond series, with a new book coming out this year. Not sure if it has a stateside distributor.

Ah yes, music sometimes wires its way into your head like that. :)