Monday, May 17, 2010

Other Stuff (not mine): Lost Classics

I wasn't trying to unify this week's collection of links around any particular theme or idea. Or, at least I didn't think I was until I realized each entry involves work that has been lost in some way. Culture moves on quickly, and for every artist or creation we choose to venerate and enshrine into our collective culture, there are dozens of other major works by important artists  that fade into the dust. Maybe it's inevitable, not everything can be a classic obviously, and some work just doesn't stand the test of time. However, today's links examine a series of objects that should be re-evaluated.
  • Hulu has full-length episodes of "Alfred Hitchcock Presents." The teleplay for this episode, "An Out for Oscar," was written by the great David Goodis. Goodis is best known for writing the books that "Dark Passage" and "Shoot the Piano Player" were based on, and I think he was one of the great American novelists. Goodis wrote more than 15 novels and worked in TV and the movies for a few years, but it's rare to find full episodes of his shows, and this is definitely worth checking out. A spoiler-heavy review of "An Out for Oscar can be found on Mystery File

  • Penguin Books is 75 years old, and this article lists the first ten books they published. Some familiar titles, but most of these have basically been forgotten. It's an interesting view into the beginning of one of the best publishers in the world, and a sort of sad look at how easily the major works of today are lost to the past  
  • Later this week I will be participating in the Spotlight Series tour on New York Review of Books Classics. My blog will join a couple dozen other book blogs in posting reviews of a book from the NYRB catalog. It's a great series and I hope it draws attention to the great (and beautiful) NYRB series, which re-issues really important books from around the world. The tour started today and here's the list of blogs to check out. I think Hard Rain Calling by Don Carpenter sounds like a great read. . 
  • And finally, there's a new biography of Jack London, Wolf,  by James Haley, reviewed in The Wall Street Journal. London is criminally overlooked and has been relegated to the "literature for boys" section of modern literature. Perhaps not as dismissed as Horatio Alger, more on him soon, but still not nearly as respected now as at the turn of the last century. Haley's book seems determined to remedy this, and while it appears to have some problems, it sounds like a riveting read that I can't wait to get my hands on.

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