Streams

Crime Fiction Academy

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Jonathan Santlofer, Director at the Crime Fiction Academy, and Lawrence Block, author and Crime Fiction Academy Master Class Instructor, talk about the academy, a program at the Center for Fiction that’s dedicated to crime writing in all its forms. Jonathan Santlofer is the author of five bestselling novels, including Anatomy of Fear and The Killing Art. Lawrence Block has been writing award-winning mystery and suspense fiction for half a century, and his most recent novel is A Drop of the Hard Stuff.

Guests:

Lawrence Block and Jonathan Santlofer
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Comments [3]

jonathan santlofer

This interests me. Wouldn't you say that history is interpretive and changes all the time when new facts come to light - and depending on who is telling it? In that way history is an evolving fiction. And to discount all fiction as "fairy tales" seems radical to say the least. I love Charles Dickens and don't think there are many who tell a story as well as he does (or paints a better picture of his time and place), and I'm surely glad he told a lot of them and that others continue. Toni Morrison once said, and I paraphrase, that growing up poor what fed her was not real life but community theater and books..." I agree Conan Doyle was good but if I had stopped at him or at Agatha Christie I'd have missed Nobokov and Philip Roth and Michael Connelly and so many books and 'stories' that have enriched my view of the world and "true" events. Good fiction makes us look at ourselves and the world in new ways and for that I am thankful. Frankly, if all I had to read was the news and the newspaper I'd have blown my brains out years ago!

Aug. 23 2012 04:52 PM

I love Lawrence Block. I read all of his Matt Scudder books years ago, and hearing him on this program reminds me that I need to go read some of his other books as well.

I read mostly history and politics until I went to law school. After surviving my first year, a friend gave me a John LeCarre book, and I never looked back. I moved from spy books to mysteries. I particularly love the flawed protagonist. Not the smartest or the best-looking, not the most "successful," but plodding, dogged, determined, a regular guy or gal just trying to do what is right. Almost always the protagonist has a very dark personal history, significant flaws.

I've read articles that argue that the modern mystery is now a replacement for the novel. Mysteries do tend to uncover the nasty, the scary, the evil, the weakness, the underside of our society, often leaving the reader with a sense of hopelessness, except for the fact that the usually beaten-down protagonist keeps going in the face of so much that is wrong.

The protagonists, the good guys and gals, also tend to be working class people, not the rich. No more Nick and Nora, but more people just getting by, usually divorced, having trouble paying the bills. They are the heros, the ones who get up every day and try to do what is right. They often also do what is wrong, and that forces the reader to acknowledge that most of us do. Nobody is perfect, and there is no superman. Just people trying to do what is right. Often the most evil people in the book are rich and powerful, politically connected. Just like in real life.

I wish I was in NYC. One of these days I will have to come to one of their seminars. Great faculty. Good show.

Aug. 23 2012 01:31 PM
jgarbuz from Queens

There is a "need" for more fiction scribbling? I think Arthur Conan Doyle did the crime genre very well, and haven't had a burning need to read others ever since. Why there is such a large market for the consumption of fairy tales has always baffled me, since true life, history, biographies and other non-fiction topics are often stranger and more fascinating than fiction.

Aug. 23 2012 01:11 PM

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