2/16/2016

Book Look - Troubled Daughters, Twisted Wives, edited by Sarah Weinman




As others have said, this collection of 14 stories is meant to shed light on a largely forgotten literary genre, so-called "domestic mysteries" - stories that draw their suspense from the uniquely strained and fraught interactions that occur within families. No gumshoes (a la Hammett), no feisty elderly detectives (a la Christie) - instead, Weinman's female authors gives us mentally disturbed nannies (Patricia Highsmith's "The Heroine"), desperate widows (Nedra Tyre's "A Nice Place to Stay"), and spoiled daughters (Shirley Jackson's "Louisa, Please Come Home"); women tormented by greed (Miriam Allen Deford's "Mortmain"), by jealousy (Vera Caspary's "Sugar and Spice"), and by Terrible Secrets (Barbara Callahan's "Lavendar Lady"); competent women gone wrong (Helen Nielsen's "Don't Sit Under the Apple Tree"; Joyce Harrington's "The Purple Shroud"), competent women sacrificing themselves for their families (Elisabeth Sanxay Holding's "The Stranger in the Car"), and competent women forced to sacrifice their families (Charlotte Armstrong's "The Splintered Monday"); lucky women (Dorothy Hughes's "Everybody Needs a Mink"), devious spinsters (Celia Fremlin's "A Case of Maximum Need"), and creepy children (Dorothy Davis's "Lost Generation"; Margaret Millar's "The People Across the Canyon").

As others have noted in their reviews, Weinman's introductions to each story do achieve the dubious distinction of simultaneously adding little useful info about the authors while incorporating spoilers that manage to rob many of the stories of their surprise. I'm inclined to forgive her the former, because - unlike their male colleagues - many of these women lived their lives in domestic rather than public arenas, making it hard to ferret out revealing biographical detail. However, there's really no excuse for the spoilers. If it's not too late, you may wish to give these introductions a miss.

Some of the stories are more imaginative then others, some more suspenseful than others, but all are competently written and diverting in their "domestic" way. While they may not exude melodramatic pulpiness, they are nevertheless chilling, perhaps precisely because the crimes they describe are domestic, and therefore feel a little more "close to home" than most of us would prefer our crime fiction to be.

2/08/2016

A Thousand Words - Because a Good Bun Pun Never Gets Old

14th century artist having fun with a bun pun?:

This is from a 14th century illustrated manuscript and appears to be a picture of people throwing buns at each other, enlivened by one of those bawdy puns (in this case, a bun pun) that made the medieval age such a riot. I love that no matter how much we humans change and evolve, our love of bawdy puns never wanes!

SOURCE: periodfashion.blogspot.com