Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Coming Attractions

The past couple of months I've been reading nothing but non-fiction for the summer film talk series I do each year in Manhattan.  Among the things I've read have been a book on the history of MGM musicals, Jennifer Fronc's Monitoring the Movies: The Fight Over Film Censorship in Early Twentieth-Century Urban America, and W.K. Stratton's entertaining book The Wild Bunch: Sam Peckinpah, a Revolution in Hollywood, and the Making of a Legendary Film.  I never tire of reading movie books, and these weeks have been a nice break from reading fiction, on which, sometimes, you can get sated.  I still have a few more film books to read as the film talks series approaches its end in August, but I'm looking forward to returning to fiction and plunging back into reading novels.

Among the books on my shelf I expect to be getting to soon:

Have I never read this?  Of course I have.  But the high school my son will be starting in September has dictated he read this as part of his summer reading (in preparation for discussions when school starts, presumably), and since it's been years, maybe decades, since I did read it, I want to bone up on it and have it fresh in my mind so I can discuss it with him.

Jake Hinkson is among my favorite contemporary crime writers, and it's been a few years since he has had anything new appear here in the United States.  I've very much enjoyed everything he has written thus far, from his novels and short stories to his illuminating volume on film noir called The Blind Alley. Dry County is set in the Arkansas Ozarks in the lead up to the 2016 presidential election, and it focuses on a preacher who is blackmailed by a former lover. With its mix of religion and politics, desperation and secrets, it looks like it should be vintage Hinkson. Few writers get at basic human frailty as well as he does.

I haven't read Erica Wright yet, but I'm looking forward to this one, which is a mystery that has to do with the death of a reclusive retired film actress in a small town.  I'm expecting all sorts of suspicious and double-dealing characters here, not to mention how the main character's past in old Hollywood should connect to the plot...

Seems like we're back where we started, with movies.  Is there no escaping them?

Maybe not.



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