By Peter Swirski
Peter Swirski seems at American crime fiction as an artform that expresses and displays the social and aesthetic values of its authors and readers. As such he records the manifold ways that such authorship and readership are a question of trained literary selection and never of cultural brainwashing or declining literary criteria. Asking, in impact, a sequence of questions on the character of style fiction as artwork, successive chapters examine American crime writers whose careers throw mild at the dangers and rewards of nobrow site visitors among well known types and intellectual aesthetics: Dashiell Hammett, John Grisham, William Faulkner, Ernest Hemingway, Raymond Chandler, Ed McBain, Nelson DeMille, and F. Scott Fitzgerald.
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Additional info for American Crime Fiction: A Cultural History of Nobrow Literature as Art
There is also the Mammoth Encyclopedia of Modern Crime Fiction which, limited only to the postwar decades, comes in at more than half-a-thousand pages of magnifyingglass print. NOBROW: CONTENTS AND DISCONTENTS 25 At the other end of the spectrum, acclaimed artists who turn their hands to fictional crime are also as common as bread in a prison meatloaf. Even more than Faulkner, Hemingway, and Fitzgerald, one might mention Akira Kurosawa whose ironically titled film High and Low (1963) adapted one of Ed McBain’s police procedurals, King’s Ransom (1959), with Tokyo subbing as the suburban tangle of New York City.
Not bad for BRIEFCASES FOR HIRE: DASHIELL HAMMETT AND JOHN GRISHAM 33 a writer of private eye mysteries in which the only thing faster than a bullet is one-line wit. Hammett also left his imprint on American cinema through John Huston’s 1941 adaptation of The Maltese Falcon, selected by the American Film Institute as one of twenty-five Greatest American Films. Everyone knows the picture’s all-star cast—Humphrey Bogart, Mary Astor, Sidney Greenstreet, and Peter Lorre as chypre-scented (gay) Joel Cairo—although theirs was only version number three.
Evidently, there are parameters of the phenomenology of the mystery genre that take it in the direction of literature tout court. Sociologists, anthropologists, and a growing number of literary scholars document any number of critical and discriminating attitudes among genre fiction readers, something that curators of high art like to arrogate just to themselves. In general, there is no evidence that individuals who regularly consume genre fiction are criminally inclined escapists incapable of getting a grip on reality.