There have been numerous anthologies attempting to show the breadth of crime fiction by signaling that it reaches from genre all the way to world literature. This is one of the best of them due to the taste of editor Charyn, himself an accomplished literary writer.
The genre is represented here by such excellent writers (with excellent stories) as Lawrence Block, Sara Paretsky, Sue Grafton, Harlan Ellison (Not that Ellison can comfortably be claimed by any genre; he is unto himself), Tony Hillerman, Walter Mosley, Ross Thomas, George C. Chesbro and several others. Since the anthology was published first in 1993 it was nearly a decade ahead of the next group/generation up. There is no Megan Abbott, Marcus Sakey, Ken Bruen, Daniel Woodrell, etc. Be interesting to update the book with some of these new editions.
The literary writers range from Joyce Carol Oates to Italo Calvino to Flannery O'Connor to Manuel Vasquez Montalban among many others.
For me the two outstanding literary pieces are the excerpt from Don DeLillo's novel Libra and Raymond Carver's famous Cathedral. The DeLillo piece demonstrates how effective backstory can be. Yes, even though it's fallen into disrepute in some quarters, DeLillo uses it here to create a character and a world as unexpected and grim as any apocalyptic fiction. Stunning work.
Cathedral is arguably Raymond Carver's finest story. His version of the unreliable narrator is masterful. We don't challenge his veracity as a reporter--it's his attitude toward the dark tale he's relating. This is a story you can read a dozen times without mastering.
The Casebook was first published by the late (and much missed) Byron Preiss and is a great example of his taste in literature.
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I am at Noircon this week. But I will pick up on this next week.
And I did this one under its original title, THE NEW MYSTERY, last week...albeit I mostly used it and the other two anthos (and the CONJUNCTIONS issue that was the rough draft for THE NEW GOTHIC) as a jumping off point for an excoriation of tunnel vision in literature.
...such as the notion that "genre" literature is usefully segregated from "world" literature...Charyn's point before it was mine...
Oates can't be neatly boxed any more readily than Ellison, or any of these folks, really...
I wasn't try to "box" anybody, Todd. I was simply breaking it down the way the chains do. Bloch and Ellison are better writers than a number of the "literary" writers in the collection.
No, I get it...but it's playing along with this kind of nonsense that allows it to calcify.
And specifically what this book, and the others like it (Judith Marril's annuals, to some extent THE NEW GOTHIC and THE NEW WEIRD, new books like Gaiman and Sarrantonio's STORIES) is set up to combat. Fiction isn't limited by its subject matter, no matter what Borders or the NYTBR would like to have us believe for their various reasons, and it would help everyone if we would quit pretending along with them.
Hah. I'm still half-blind...Judith Merril, of course.
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