Thrillers and Mysteries Had Homogenous Histories

Dave Astor on Literature

I’ve written about diversity in literature before, but this time I’m going to be a bit more specific. As in the welcome increased diversity in thrillers and mysteries during the past few decades.

Many right-wing Republicans would find that “woke,” but they’re welcome to fall asleep listening to Ron DeSantis speeches.

There was of course some diversity in long-ago mysteries and thrillers, but old novels in those genres often featured white male detectives in lead roles and mostly “conventional” women in supporting roles. If there were rare inclusions of people of color, those characters were usually depicted in cringe stereotypical fashion.

Famous white male detectives of the 19th century and the first decades of the 20th century included Edgar Allan Poe’s C. Auguste Dupin (in three short stories rather than any novels), Charles Dickens’ Inspector Bucket, Wilkie Collins’ Sergeant Cuff, Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes, Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot, Dorothy…

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Completely Well – B. B. King (1969)

1960s: Days of Rage

“… 1. The Thrill Is Gone: King’s signature song was a hit for Roy Hawkins, its co-writer, in 1951, but BB’s ground-up reworking of it reached No. 15 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1970 and took his popularity to a new audience, and a new level. Its dramatic arrangment – immersing King’s angst-ridden vocals and laconic, reverb-shrouded stabs of guitar in a sea of heartbreak made up of pensive strings and atmospheric Wurlitzer, provided the established bluesman with an entirely fresh sonic setting. The song was masterminded by Bill Szymczyk, an up-and-coming staff producer at ABC Records who had lobbied hard to allow executives to pair him up with King in the studio. The result of their first collaboration was 1969’s Live & Well album: a half-live, half-studio test exercise. For its follow-up, Completely Well, Szymczyk recruited session players Herbie Lovell on drums, bassist Gerry Jemmott, keys…

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Frank Stella

1960s: Days of Rage

Hyena Stomp,1962

“There is no question that Frank Stella is one of the seminal figures of American art. One need only look at his rigorously controlled, almost confrontationally flat, gridded, design-oriented paintings of the late ’50s and ’60s to see how he was reacting against the theatrical, highly psychologized work of abstract expressionists, and how, alongside fellow New York painters Jasper Johns and Robert Rauschenberg, he was reinventing abstraction for a new generation. His infamous 1964 quote about his own work—’What you see is what you see’—became something of an instant minimalist maxim. And suddenly, as much as Stella seemed to be resisting certain painterly dramatics, new shapes and possibilities were unleashed. The shaped paintings of Stella’s early career are as coded and straightforward as ancient runes or corporate logos, teetering between the industrial and the painstakingly handmade. They’re like flags of new orders—or new divisions. But perhaps what…

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Without Marx or Jesus: the New American Revolution Has Begun. – Jean-François Revel (1972)

1960s: Days of Rage

“To judge a book by a Frenchman that has ‘America’ in its title by comparing it with Democracy in America is unfair. Tocqueville’s pair of books enjoy their reputation; Revel’s best-seller, little more than an extended pamphlet, will not be read or known in 2109—a date as distant in the future as the first publication of Democracy in America is in the past. In spite of this, the comparison ought to be made, not so Revel can be blamed for failing to measure up, but because it reveals some stubborn similarities in what the U.S. may mean for certain foreigners, especially certain Frenchmen. Also, Without Marx or Jesus is not a worthless book; the comparison helps to determine what it is good for. Tocqueville (like Revel) came to America to confirm his prejudices. Early notes and letters show he had largely decided, before he came, what America—or rather, democracy in…

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Should America Be Like Florida? NO! Says Miami Herald Editorial Board

Diane Ravitch's blog

Ron DeSantis wants to make America just like Florida, where the maximum leader (Ron DeSantis) has a docile legislature that lets him decide what everyone else is allowed to do and punishes those bold enough to ignore his orders.

That’s why he is running for President. He thinks the whole nation needs and wants a maximum leader with a reactionary view of behavior and morality.

Florida is where you are free to do whatever Ron DeSantis tells you to do and free to think what he believes. If you disagree, you are no longer free.

The Miami Herald editorial board says DeSantis has turned Florida into a mean state. No, you don’t want to make America Florida.

Florida, under Gov. Ron DeSantis and Republican Legislature, is increasingly hard to recognize. It’s an intolerant and repressive place that bears scant resemblance to the Sunshine State of just a few years…

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Baseball And Writing By Marianne Moore

1960s: Days of Rage

The baseball fan redux. “Baseball is a language, and, for the fanatic, it is language. It is the baseball fan who continues to make language baseball’s lingua franca.Baseball is a language, and, for the fanatic, it is language. It is the baseball fan who continues to make language baseball’s lingua franca. No more attentive fan of the Brooklyn Dodgers than the poet Marianne Moore ever attended games at Ebbetts Field or read accounts of their ultimate failures in the New York Times the next morning, and the evidence of that strange attention is of course in the poems. Her Dodgers finally won a World Series in 1955, and she combed through New York Times sports-page coverage, pulling phrases that specified her exultation, and made ‘Hometown Piece for Mssrs. Alston and Reese’ something of a collage. From its rhymed title on, the poem seems to poeticize the unpoetical and thus create…

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Heather Cox Richardson: Biden Is a Clever Negotiator

Diane Ravitch's blog

Heather Cox Richardson writes about Biden’s deliberately low-key description of the deal he made with Kevin McCarthy. McCarthy is on television, Biden is not. McCarthy claims victory, Biden is quiet. What gives? (Interesting comment at the end of the post: Tara Reade, the woman who accused Joe Biden of sexually assaulting her has moved to Russia “for her safety.”)

She writes:

“[O]ne of the things that I hear some of you guys saying is, ‘Why doesn’t Biden say what a good deal it is?’” President Joe Biden said to reporters yesterday afternoon before leaving the White House on the Marine One helicopter. “Why would Biden say what a good deal it is before the vote? You think that’s going to help me get it passed? No. That’s why you guys don’t bargain very well.”

Biden’s unusually revealing comment about the budget negotiations was actually a statement about his presidency. Unlike…

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Paul Bonner: How to Build Public Trust in Public Schools

Diane Ravitch's blog

Paul Bonner is a retired teacher and principal. He suggests a way to undermine the complaints about CRT, WOKE, and other scarecrows.

Perhaps the greatest injustice of all of this sound and fury for nothing, is that few of the individuals who are the most outspoken concerning cultural disinformation have set foot in a school in the last decade, much less observed or engaged in classroom instruction. Most of the right wing celebrities who profit from all of this noise send their children to private schools. Well intentioned policy makers and Washington politicians also opt for private schools when they are available. It is my experience that when school officials open their doors the reception from the public is very positive. I was principal of an elementary school where my predecessors actually barred members of the community from the building. There was a metal pull down door at the front…

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WSJ: A Day in the Life of Jeffrey Epstein

Diane Ravitch's blog

Jeffrey Epstein, sexual predator and child abuser, became a very rich man as a financial advisor to the rich and famous. When he died awaiting trial, he was allegedly worth $600 million. His estate paid off claims to more than 100 women whom he had abused.

Due to his notoriety and his many powerful friends, he continues to be a fascinating figure. The Wall Street Journal somehow obtained his daily diaries and has written several stories about his interactions with his important friends.

This one was published a few weeks ago in the Wall Street Journsl:

On Monday, Sept. 8, 2014, Jeffrey Epstein had a full calendar. He was scheduled to meet that day with Bill Gates, Thomas Pritzker, Leon Black and Mortimer Zuckerman, four of the richest men in the country, according to schedules and emails reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.

Epstein also planned meetings that day with…

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Paul Schrader Creates a Diagram Mapping the Progression of Arthouse Cinema: Ozu, Bresson, Tarkovsky & Other Auteurs

1960s: Days of Rage

“The dozens of filmmakers in the diagram above belong to a variety of cultures and eras, but what do they have in common? Some of the names that jump out at even the casual filmgoer — Andrei Tarkovsky, Jim Jarmusch, Pier Paolo Pasolini, Terrence Malick — may suggest a straightforward connection: cinephiles love them. Of course, not every cinephile loves every one of these directors, and indeed, bitter cinephile arguments rage about their relative merits even as we speak. But in one way or another, all of them are taken seriously as auteurs by those who take film seriously as an art form — and not least by Paul Schrader, one of the most serious auteur-cinephiles alive. Schrader first made his name as a film critic, with his 1972 book Transcendental Style in Film: Ozu, Bresson, Dreyer. In it he argues that the work of Yasujirō Ozu,

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