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The Misadventures of Nero Wolfe: Parodies and Pastiches Featuring the Great Detective of West 35th Street Capa comum – 14 abril 2020
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If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then Nero Wolfe and Archie Goodwin have been widely flattered almost from the moment Rex Stout first wrote about them in 1934. The Misadventures of Nero Wolfe collects two dozen literary tributes to one of crime fiction's best-loved private detectives and his Man Friday. Included are:
- A 1947 pastiche by award-winning crime writer Thomas Narcejac
- Rollicking new stories written especially for this collection by Michael Bracken and Robert Lopresti
- Stories by bestselling authors including Lawrence Block and Loren D. Estleman
- Chapters from Robert Goldsborough's authorized continuation of the Wolfe series; Marion Mainwaring's 1955 tour de force Murder in Pastiche; and John Lescroart's Rasputin's Revenge, which reimagines a young Wolfe as the son of Sherlock Holmes
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Marvin Kaye (b. 1938) is the author of more than forty books. Born in Philadelphia, he attended college at the University of Pennsylvania, graduating with advanced degrees in theater and English literature. After reporting for the national newspaper Grit for several years, he moved to New York City and found work in publishing. He published his first nonfiction book, The Histrionic Holmes, in 1971, and followed it with the mystery novel A Lively Game of Death (1972), which introduced sleuthing public relations agent Hilary Quayle, Kaye's most famous character. In addition to five Quayle novels, Kaye has written and edited dozens of works of fiction and nonfiction. He is also one of the founders of the Open Book, New York City's oldest continuously operating reading theater. In 2010, the theater produced Kaye's Mister Jack, a comedy about Don Juan. Before his retirement, Kaye taught creative writing at New York University, and regularly performed improvised comedy at the Jekyll & Hyde Club.
Lawrence Block (b. 1938) is a Grand Master of the Mystery Writers of America and an internationally acclaimed New York Times bestselling author. His awards include a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Private Eye Writers of America and the Cartier Diamond Dagger Lifetime Achievement Award from the Crime Writers' Association (UK). Although he is best known for his four main mystery series, Block explored a variety of genres, including thrillers and erotica, and developed an early following as a pulp-fiction writer under a number of pseudonyms. Born in Buffalo, New York, Block has three daughters and currently lives with his wife in New York City.
Loren D. Estleman (b. 1952) has written over sixty-five novels. His most enduring character, Amos Walker, made his first appearance in 1980's Motor City Blue, and the hardboiled Detroit private eye has been featured in twenty books since. Estleman has also won praise for his adventure novels set in the Old West, receiving awards for many of his standalone westerns. In 1993 Estleman married Deborah Morgan, a fellow mystery author. He lives and works in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
Detalhes do produto
- Editora : Mysteriouspress.Com/Open Road (14 abril 2020)
- Idioma : Inglês
- Capa comum : 364 páginas
- ISBN-10 : 1504059867
- ISBN-13 : 978-1504059862
- Dimensões : 12.7 x 1.27 x 20.32 cm
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It contains parodies and pastiches - some more successsful than others - as well as other contributions celebrating Nero Wolfe and the series. It also includes the opening chapter of Robert Goldsborough's first follow-up novel about Wolfe: Murder in E Minor, which began a series which has acquired a well-deserved reputation of its own. Indeed, because the plots are so secondary, reading this chapter led me straightaway to read the whole book again - because I could not recall the plot details. The misadventures are a delight to read, but more so probably for the irredemable fans of the detective. Those fans will appreciate the several references to titles and other aspects of the tales of Nero and Archie, who, like Jeeves and Wooster, like Sherlock Holmes, never seem to age, seem to be just as appreciated by a twenty-first century readership as by those who purchased the original editions when they first appeared and into whose worlds we gladly enter and re-enter, always hoping for more.
The Misadventures of Nero Wolfe is an unhappy dog's breakfast with a number of choice morsels mixed with other mediocre and lesser fare. It suggests itself like one of those Mickey Rooney-Judy Garland movies. "Hey kids, lets invite all our friends over and put on a stage show." While Mickey can dance and Judy sure can sing, the rest of the crew is middling at best.
The scattered nuggets in TMofNW are entertaining on their own. Loren Estleman is a pro at serving parody at the right temperature. But to put his work in the same volume as a hack is an affront to good taste. Parody and pastiche only succeed when the writer gives due recognition to the serious essence of the original source. When Wolfe becomes an overblown dullard craving lifetime admission to a freakish sideshow as a fee, the comic seasoning and is lost.
Certainly Robert Goldsborough's Murder in E Minor is one of his true early triumphs in continuing the Wolfe corpus, but excerpting the first chapter is weak tea as an example of how adept the story really was - foreplay takes time and in and of itself isn't close to being a satisfying climax. Writus interruptus. Presenting this sliver adds little to understanding how well crafted the whole book was. A more intelligent approach would have been to present a thoughtful review of the book and place it in context with the corpus and Goldsborough's subsequent books. Now that would have been a bracing contribution. And required honest scholarship. It's so much easier to cut and paste.
None of the efforts in TMofNW's introductory section till any new ground in appreciating Stout and Wolfe (even given the excellence of Penzler's essay). The well trod words and phrases ("My father always took Nero and Archie quite seriously") and the self-congratulatory fluff (". . . what I believe to be the cream of the crop.") are nice - in the traditional definition of that adjective.
It is a treat to read a number of the works in the book. Narcejac's The Red Orchid is particularly captivating for the very European depiction of Archie with his lips and hands all over the female's face and hair - a shock to the sensibilities that flies in the face of PC culture's dictates. It's a bit like Casanova writing a manual on speed dating. Almost anything Lawrence Block pens is a pleasure to read.
One-third of TMofNW is on point and stimulating. One-third is hollow. And the other third isn't worth the reader's time or dough.
TMofNW reminds the reader of nothing less than a riddle the reader learned in college many moons ago. "What do you get when you mix a pound of vanilla ice cream and a cup of manure? A pound of manure."
An expanded version of this originally appeared at The Irresponsible Reader.
In the same vein as the 2018 compilation that he co-edited, The Misadventures of Ellery Queen, Pachter (with the blessing of Stout's daughter), Pachter presents just what the title promises: a collection of short pieces featuring takes on Nero Wolfe (and, generally, Archie Goodwin).
There are three introductory essays—one by Otto Penzler; one by Stout's daughter, Rebecca Stout Bradbury; and then one from Pachter (which served as a typical introduction). All three of these pieces were a pleasure to read, but obviously, Bradbury's is the standout for sentimental reasons.
Then we move into pastiches, although some felt more like parodies to me—but why quibble? The first entry just didn't work for me, and almost put me off the project as a whole. But, it's Wolfe, so as much as I say "almost"—there's no chance that'd stick. Thankfully, the second entry more than made up for it, as did the rest. A personal highlight came from Pachter reprinting the first chapter of Murder in E Minor, Robert Goldsborough's first Wolfe novel—I appreciated the reminder that I did really like his work at one point. (I wish something from William L. DeAndrea's Lobo Blacke/Quinn Booker books had made it in here)
The next section featured a handful of parodies. By and large, I enjoyed this part, but I would've appreciated a bit more subtlety with many of the works. The story "Julius Katz and the Case of Exploding Wine" was simply fantastic—I will be tracking down more of these stories by Dave Zeltserman as soon as I can (I have a browser tab open at the moment for an e-store with the collections).
The final section, "Potpourri," was my favorite. It included things like a story about a circus' Fat Woman doing a fine Nero Wolfe impression (and was a pretty clever story even without that); Pachter's short story about a young man named for Wolfe, "Sam Buried Caesar," which was utterly charming; and a scene from Joseph Goodrich's stage adaptation of Might as Well Be Dead. The highlight of this section (and possibly the entire book) was a little story called "The Damned Doorbell Rang," about a couple who used to live next to Wolfe's Brownstone on West 35th (obviously on the opposite side from Doc Vollmer), who didn't realize who they lived next to, nor appreciate the goings-on in the brownstone. An inspired idea that was executed wonderfully.
As with almost every compilation ever assembled, there were a lot of high highs and very low lows in this one—and most readers will likely disagree with what I'd put in either category. But I can't imagine any Wolfe reader not finding more than enough in this book to consider any time spent with it a win. The writers all clearly had fun with the subject matter, and it's infectious. Pachter has speculated about doing another collection of Wolfean tidbits. If he does, I know I'll be more than ready to grab it.