Sunday, February 10, 2013

Is what passes for crime fiction today over-rated?

Patrick over At The Scene of the Crime sure thinks so.  He thinks that everything nominated for an Agatha Award this year is at worst crap, or at best, not worthy of an award of any kind.  I haven't read any of them, but I'm familiar with and generally like a couple of the authors, esp. Charles Todd.  I think I get his point about Louise Penny, while I've enjoyed what I've read of hers so far, I wouldn't give any of it a medal or anything.  Patrick's point isn't that ALL crime fiction today is crap, just that what gets nominated is largely overrated. This conjures up memories of of a famous moment in graduate school, when Slava the hyper serious Russian G-1 told Bernard Bailyn the most famous historian in America "pfft, vot does it mean to vin an award for a book?  Anything can vin an award!"  Well, not anything can win just anything, and BB was gracious in reminding ol' Slava that ha Pulitzer or two (like he had) wasn't something to sneeze at.  I think BB liked Slava's style.  

Patrick also doesn't think much of academics who dabble in crime fiction analysis. Ex:  they misfire in their unanimous adoration of The Big Sleep.  Again, haven't read it, but I'm willing to give him the benefit of the doubt since I always literary analysis just a bit de trop.  And I probably have more sympathy for it than the average crime fiction reader, being a lapsed academic meself. But I'm always a bit defensive when people rail against academics like they are lawyers or something.  Yeah I know it seems like they are either a) stating the obvious or b) making it up.  But that's the coin of their realm, and every once in a while it makes sense outside the ivory tower.  But I still get defensive like it is OK to tell jokes about your own tribe, but not about someone else's.  Not that I really count myself in the academic tribe, obviously I'm an outlier like that Hasidim who left and became a NYC cop on Blue Bloods last night.  Of course, I'm not shunned by my former tribe like he is.

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