Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Period Pieces

by
John McFetridge


A quick post today, just a question: Do you like historical fiction set during your own lifetime?

We were talking on Peter Rozovsky’s blog recently about Elmore Leonard’s novels set in the 30’s and 40’s, The Hot Kid and Up In Honey’s Room which were written recently but take place when the author was a kid and included events he remembered.

And I really like James Ellroy’s American Underworld Trilogy which starts before I was born but continues up into the 70’s and includes events that were in the newspapers I delivered as a kid.

These books have a different attitude than books written at the time (well, duh) beyond just the swearing and sex and a different perspective that I like.

So, if you like historical fiction from your own lifetime, can you recommend some?

I guess that was actually two questions, sorry.

9 comments:

Paul D. Brazill said...

I refuse to accept that anything that's happened in my own lifetime is historical...however, Jake Arnott's 'The Long Firm' is a bit splendid.

Keith Logan said...

I like George Pelecanos' various looks at Washington DC, notably KING SUCKERMAN which captured the 1970s (a decade in which I grew up) very well. He uses cultural references to a great effect, especially music.

sandra seamans said...

I enjoy the "Baby Shark" books by Robert Fate. No way a woman like that would have even been written back in the 50's.

pattinase (abbott) said...

On the whole I don't like historical fiction if the author has real people saying things the author has invented for them to say. For instance I just read THE PARIS WIFE and it drove me crazy. And I am reading LACUNA where Trotsky, Rivera and Kahlo are given a voice. I don't care for it at all.
I like it when the characters are all fictitious. And there are too many to name although I didn't think THE HELP worked very well. So it's tough in any circumstances.
I loved the use of the seventies in LIFE ON MARS on tv (Brit version)

Al Tucher said...

Sue Grafton and P.J. Parrish both set their stories in the 1980s, and I enjoy them.

And in fact, I do the same thing myself. I decided early on to write my Diana Andrews stories in real time, and it's scary how fast the present recedes into the near past and then, inexorably, the not so near past. How did 1990 get to be more than twenty years ago?

Thomas Pluck said...

I was a kid in the '70s and wish I was an adult like Kowalski in Vanishing Point, a gang in The Warriors or The Driver... so I love "historical" fiction from then. '80s too, it's the douchebag decade.

Spencer said...

born in 1979, and i've really been liking Robert Crais late 80'/90's stuff.

Peter Rozovsky said...

I know that John is too young to have read historical crime fiction set in his own lifetime because he's my age.

But Giles Blunt's The Delicate Storm has an interesting version of a key event in Quebec's October Crisis of 1970, a kind of fictionalized you-were-there view of the kidnapping of the British Trade Commissioner James Cross.
======================
Detectives Beyond Borders
"Because Murder Is More Fun Away From Home"
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Benjamin Sobieck said...

I've read both those Elmore novels. Great writing from a great author doesn't suffer depending on a period. It's the story that counts.