Showing posts with label Doyle. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Doyle. Show all posts

19 July 2017

Five Red Herrings 8

by Robert Lopresti

1. Maybe I've been here before.  Five years ago in this space (wow, we've been doing this a long time, haven't we?) I wrote a piece about incidental music in movies and TV, (and by incidental I mean it wasn't written for  that show and is not being performed by a character).  The inspiration was Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah" showing up in yet another TV show.  I wrote: "It was about five years ago that I concluded that the FCC had passed a new rule requiring every TV show to feature 'Hallelujah.'" I now have evidence that I was right (not about the FCC, but about the frequency of that song's appearances.)

I am reading The Holy or the Broken, a book by Alan Light that is entirely about you-know-which song.  It reports that the first appearance on TV was in Scrubs  in 2002.  There were five more visits in 2003 and seven in the year after.  Each performance pays in the $50,000 range, with half going to the author (and his publisher) and half to the performer (and the record company).  Not bad.

By the way, the whole book is fascinating.  If a writer of fiction tried to make up the story of Cohen's "Hallelujah" she would have to sell it as fantasy or magic realism.  It involves two generations of singers dying young, an animated children's film, TV talent contests, the 9/11 attacks...

Meet the new boss
Blonde as  the old boss
2. Blonde on Blonde. Going even further back in my blogging past, in 2008 I commented on my affection for the British TV show New Tricks.  I noted that there seemed to be a rule that all shows about cops working on cold cases (New Tricks, Cold Squad, Cold Case) had to be led by a blonde woman. 

I recently discovered new episodes of New Tricks and all but one of the  characters had been replaced, including the leader.  And yes, the new one is a blonde woman.
from Gratisography

3.  Getcha pretty pictures right here.  Some of us here at SleuthSayers HQ find ourselves from time to time looking for illustrations that we can use without fearing the Long Arm of the Copyright.  The website Guns, Gams, and Gumshoes has a very helpful list of four websites with images free for the using. 

4. Steven on Sherlock.  The latest issue of Strand Magazine (February-May 2017) has a very interesting interview with Steven Moffat, co-producer and co-creator of Sherlock.  Even if you don't watch his show, Moffat's insights into the great original are interesting.  To those who complain about his making the characters young and modern he replies that when Doyle invented Holmes and Watson they were young and used the newest technology available.  They aged into period pieces as Doyle wrote about them for forty years.  He also points out that people don't complain about the James Bond movies yanking the character out of his time period, although Fleming's character was a World War II vet.  Definitely worth a read.

5.  Riding a trend?  But maybe the most interesting thing in the Strand (and my apologies to John Floyd and the other authors of fiction who appear therein) is a full-page ad for Ted Allbeury's novel The Twentieth Day of January.  There are plenty of ads in the magazine for books, but this one is almost forty years old.  So why bring it back now?  Perhaps the plot description holds a clue: 

"Seemingly out of nowhere, wealthy businessman Logan Powell has become President-elect.  But veteran intelligence agent James MacKay uncovers shocking evidence that suggest something might be terribly wrong with the election: is Powell actually a puppet of the Soviet Union?"

Timing is the key to success.

06 August 2014

Happy 125th Anniversary!

by Robert Lopresti

Brian's column in June about connections reminded me that I wanted to point out that this year we must commemorate the 125th anniversary of the publication of a book which holds a major place in the history of mystery fiction.  It is a novel by Arthur Conan Doyle.

I refer, of course, to Micah Clarke.

You may now be thinking: Wait a minute.  Is that a classic mystery by Conan Doyle I somehow missed?

Well, no.  It was a historical novel about the English Civil War.  So why do I say it holds an important place in the history of our field?  Grab a cup of coffee and I will explain.

In 1886 Conan Doyle finished A Study In Scarlet, which I am certain you know introduced Sherlock Holmes to the world.  He hoped it would be published in the  Cornhill Magazine, but James Payn (seen on the left), in the move that gave him an eternal place in the Editor's Hall of Fame, rejected it.   The book finally found a place in  Beeton's Christmas Annual, published at the end of 1887.   The company  liked it enough to also put it out as a hardcover, and in America Lippincott's Magazine  ran it.

And then-- well, pretty much nothing happened.  It didn't rock the world even a tiny bit off its axis. 

So Conan Doyle wrote Micah Clarke, a historical novel of--  I already told you that.   And that book was a huge success when it came out early in 1889.

It so happened that Joseph Stoddart, editor of Lippincott's Magazine, visited England that year and noticed the success of the book.  He remembered that he had previously published the author's A Study In Scarlet.  So, 125 years ago this very month, he invited Doyle to dinner at the Langham Hotel (a location which subsequently appeared favorably in several of Doyle's works).  Stoddart suggested that Doyle write another book about Sherlock Holmes, and  the good doctor promptly wrote The Sign of Four.  And, as we all know, as soon as that book arrived on the newsstands the public --

Well, did nothing much.  It wasn't much any more successful than the first book.  But Doyle had the Holmes habit now and he soon wrote "A Scandal In Bohemia," which appeared in The Strand Magazine.  That was the first of  the string of short stories that truly established Holmes as an immortal character.

And they would have never come along if Stoddart hadn't been impressed by the success of Micah Clarke.  Connections, right? 

Speaking of which, Stoddart invited another author to that dinner, one who declared himself an admirer of Micah Clarke, thereby beginning a friendship with Doyle.  He also wrote something for Lippincott's at Stoddart's request.  And that book worked out pretty well too.

29 August 2012

Limitation of Statues

by Robert Lopresti

I don't know if you have seen this picture of the statue Boston is planning to erect near the birthplace of Edgar Allan Poe.  It appears to show the founder of our field going for a stroll with his giant pet raven.

People have disagreed on the quality of this work.  I won't say more than this: it will never be my favorite statue of a bird in Boston.

But it got me wondering which other mystery authors have statues in their honor.  Frankly, I was surprised at how few I was able to locate.  But take a look:

This is Arthur Conan Doyle in Crowborough, England.  It's surprisingly recent, having been created by David Cornell in 2000.
And here is Dorothy L. Sayers standing opposite her home in Witham.  I like the cat, don't you?

This bust of Agatha Christie stands in her birthplace of Torquay (which I will forever remember as the location of Fawlty Towers).

Here is Georges Simenon as seen in Liege in Belgium.

And below you will find the creator of Father Brown standing proudly in Chesterton Square.  Can you guess what city this piece by David Wanner can be found in?  Would you believe New Orleans?

And now that we have made it to the United States I would like to show you some photos of sculptures of American mystery authors.  Unfortunately I can't because a search of the web turned up no statues or even busts of Hammett, Chandler, Gardner, or Stout.  What likely candidates am I missing?

I suppose creating sculptures of authors may be more of a European thing than an American, but frankly I was expecting to find at least a bust or two created by schools that had been honored with the archives of one or another author.  If anyone knows of some, let me know.

Meanwhile I have a pedestal just my size if anyone is feeling inspired.  And let me close with what has to be the most coveted sculpture of any mystery writer...