Next month marks the 13th anniversary of the “Darkness in Paradise” conference hosted by Club Med, aka the greatest American crime fiction gathering I never went to, and possibly ever. Among those who attended: Harlan Coben (tasked with organizing) Laura Lippman, Dennis Lehane, James Crumley (left, gesticulating), George Pelecanos, Peter Robinson, Ed McBain (his arm around his wife Dragica, hidden behind Marilyn Stasio, grinning in the blue shirt), Nevada Barr, and Steve Hamilton. This would make for the most perfect oral history, even if Crumley’s take will, regrettably, have to be cobbled from earlier interviews. In the meantime, here’s what Lippman had to say about it back in 2007.
(photo via the defunct website of specialist publisher Dennis Macmillan, wearing the red Hawaiian shirt.)
Andrew Wylie’s entertaining, quotable self was on full display in this interview with the New Republic’s Laura Bennett, as was his general disdain for anything of a mass-market, high-volume, uber-commercial nature. See, for example, this outtake quote on giving his banker friends book recommendations: “They keep asking me what to read. I say, ‘Knausgaard.’ They say, ‘Really? What about Gone Girl?’ I say: ‘Forget it. Not interesting.’”
You might surmise Wylie and his Agency crew would not represent any genre fiction. You would be wrong. Granted, genre makes up a small part of the hundreds of repped clients, but it is not insignificant. The list below may have left some people off; please let me know if I have done so.
J.G. Ballard — okay, more like “cross-genre”, but current SF could not exist without him
Elmore Leonard — repped by Wylie since at least the early 1990s; probable referral via Martin Amis
Peter Leonard — fils of Dutch, crime writer in his own right, published most recently by SMP (US) and Faber (UK)
Francie Lin — her 2008 debut novel THE FOREIGNER won the Edgar Award for Best First Novel
Miyuki Miyabe — Japanese author of bestselling crime novels like ALL SHE WAS WORTH, SHADOW FAMILY, and CROSSFIRE
Estate of Edogawa Rampo — one of Japan’s earliest and most famous mystery writers, for whom the eponymous award was named.
Scott Wolven — author of CONTROLLED BURN, and many short stories included in BEST AMERICAN MYSTERY STORIES anthologies.
Every few months, a Twitter account bearing the name of somebody famous in the literary world pops up. The syntax is constant. The opening tweet goes something like, “I join Twitter today. Interesting!” People who should know better, and a great many who shouldn’t, fall for it. A few more tweets that cause a ruckus, perhaps announcing the death of another author or some other famous figure, follows. And then, once it’s clear the account is fake, because some PR person had been badgered by gullible or cynical media people about its veracity says so, there is a final tweet that goes something like this: “This account is an [sic] hoax created by Italian journalist Tommasso Debenedetti.”
Debenedetti, as he explained to the Guardian in 2012, is unrepentant about his Twitter-hoaxing: “Social media is the most unverifiable information source in the world but the news media believes it because of its need for speed.” But his fabrication roots run far deeper, as the New Yorker’s Judith Thurman discovered in 2010, reporting on Debenedetti’s penchant for making up interviews with authors like Philip Roth.
He was not amused then, and likely was even less amused when Debenedetti created a fake account in Roth’s name in December 2012. But being unmasked hardly matters when you have no shame, and revel in other people’s stupidity. Which is why we’ve also had fake Don DeLillo, fake Thomas Pynchon, fake Gabriel Garcia Marquez, and just tonight, fake Alice Munro.
I have no doubt whatsoever that Debenedetti will be back it under a new Twitter guise some months from now, when the collective Twittersphere has loosed his last hoax from its memory. But I suppose I am the proverbial elephant. I don’t forget, I know the tells. Unless he changes them. I doubt it: sociopathic hacks always have a signature.
ETA, 10/9/13: Well, that was fast. So fast that after I retweeted it, the message — and an earlier one — disappeared. I was expecting Debenedetti’s unmasking to hold out until at least after tomorrow’s Nobel Prize for Literature announcement. He really need to find some new shtick. But don’t worry. He’ll be back.
ETA, 10/15/13: Apparently Tommasso rebounded even more quickly than I expected — better to brazen it out, I suppose? In any case, let’s “enjoy” fake EL Doctorow for its short-lived life and perhaps he’ll even start taking requests (Total Request Tommasso?)
I picked up this mass market paperback at a used bookstore in Toronto last week. It’s Toronto-based suspense author Joy Fielding’s second novel THE TRANSFORMATION (1976), and it is, along with her first (THE BEST OF FRIENDS, 1972) and third (TRANCE, 1977) novels, out of print and will likely never be republished. As Fielding comments on her website, “I don’t recommend searching for them- they’re early efforts and nothing like what I do now, so I think you’d be disappointed. Please stick with everything from KISS MOMMY GOODBYE on.”
For multiple reasons, I have to agree with Fielding. It’s good trashy fun to start, one of those “Hollywood excess” novels that owed a great debt to Jacqueline Susann’s THE VALLEY OF THE DOLLS. As such there is plenty of ridiculous sex (orgies are basically “all hands and tongues, male and female, and after a while she stopped noticing”) and catfights mixed in with some depictions of the film business that ring true because Fielding herself was a young actress in Hollywood in the mid-1960s (a small part on Gunsmoke was as good as she got.)
But it is cringingly dated thanks to ill-placed homosexual slurs and lines like (I’m paraphrasing) “what good is it if you can’t even rape your wife” when marital assault in Vegas is thwarted by the lack of an erection. Oh, and then almost immediately afterwards, would be rapist and victim get hitched. (But don’t worry, the marriage is terrible!) Also the Manson-like character is pretty unconvincing, his “We are all one” satanic cult trying to be all serious but, sadly, more in the spirit of THE ROOM.
Still, except for the ending, THE TRANSFORMATION didn’t bore me, as it was batshit enough for a long enough period of time to hold my interest. I kind of feel like more novelists should immerse themselves in semi-embarrassing 1970s trash novels to lose some of their desultory, middling spirit and cut loose. But even I might not quite venture as far as another Playboy Press “gem” by one Ken Edgar….
I’ve been talking about this anthology for so long that it’s making me double take, to announce that TROUBLED DAUGHTERS, TWISTED WIVES is well and truly out there for people to buy, read, and discover more work by the included authors. Looking forward to seeing some of you at BookCourt tonight (along with Jami Attenberg, Alafair Burke, Sara J. Henry, and Koethi Zan) and at Community Bookstore on September 12 (in conversation with Hilary Davidson.)
So a few links:
Order at your favorite retailer
Official Facebook fan page (with individual links to reviews and other mentions)
Essay for the National Post (where I contribute the more-or-less monthly “Crimewave” column”) on Margaret Millar, the original Queen of Canadian Crime
Essay for SHOTS on selected the stories for TROUBLED DAUGHTERS
Essay for Crime Time on Miriam Allen deFord and the complicated business involved to include her story “Mortmain” in the anthology
Interview with the Tulsa World's James Watts
Interview with Salon's Laura Miller
And more, but let’s leave it at that for now. Hope you enjoy TROUBLED DAUGHTERS, and three cheers for domestic suspense!
Uh yeah, I’d say I am pretty damn over the moon about this collection. Thanks to Jason Diamond for putting this together!
ETA: Doesn’t the guy on this paperback cover for THE JUDAS CAT kind of look like Jude Law?
Yeah, I think I’ll be tracking this book down. This, Naomi Hintze’s first novel, was nominated for the Best First Novel Edgar in 1970 and was the basis for the 1972 movie of the same name, which sounds astoundingly batshit and stars Patty Duke as the aforementioned pregnant damsel in domestic distress.
Hintze (1909-1997) wrote five suspense novels in the 1970s; a couple of paranormal novels in the 80s, and this weird 1975 book (collaborating with Joseph Gaither Pratt) that was “a comprehensive introduction to parapsychology.” And that’s about all I know about her, for now.
From Barbara Hoffert’s prepub alert for LJ last month:
Powers, Richard. Orfeo. Norton. Jan. 2014. 352p. ISBN 9780393240825. $26.95. LITERARY FICTION
Once again, Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award winner Powers combines an elegant appreciation of music with the examination of crucial social issues. When composer Peter Els’s home microbiology lab sets off alarms at Homeland Security—never mind that he’s using it only to find music in unexpected places, a lifelong interest—Els goes on the run, visiting the people he’s met on his long journey through music. Dubbed the Bach bioterrorist on the Internet, he decides to fight back, plotting to turn his head-on collision with state security into a work of art that will truly make people listen to the sounds around them. Bravura stuff; with a six-city tour to New York, Boston, San Francisco, Portland (OR), Seattle, and Chicago.
Seriously, @wwnorton, send a galley over here ASAP. Or yesterday. Whichever is easier!