Recent Posts by Michael Kahn

Mystery #8 for Literary Snobs: The Yiddish Policemen’s Union by Michael Chabon

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As Terry Rafferty notes in "Cops and Rabbis," his review of The Yiddish Policemen's Union, Michael Chabon "has in recent years become a zealous proselytizer for a more genre-inflected and plot-friendly sort of literary fiction." Detective fiction has been one such genre, which he first explored in The Final Solution, a mystery ...

Mystery #7 for Literary Snobs: The Real Life of Sebastian Knight by Vladimir Nabokov

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Conrad Brenner, writing in The New Republic, describes this book as "the most perverse novel you are ever likely to encounter." And John Updike wrote, "Nabokov writes prose the only way it should be written, that is, ecstatically" If that doesn't whet your appetite, then go back to your annotated Finnegans ...

Mystery #6 for Literary Snobs: The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco

Umberto Eco is a literary snob's dream date. A towering intellectual, he is the author of numerous scholarly articles and books in the fields of literary criticism, semiotics, anthropology, and mass culture. Indeed, his list of international literary and scholarly awards is matched only by the number of honorary degrees he has received ...

Mystery #4 for Literary Snobs: Absalom, Absalom by William Faulkner

Faulkner flirted with the mystery genre throughout his career — Knight's Gambit and Intruder in the Dust, for example, along with the screenplay for The Big Sleep,which he wrote. But his finest mystery also happens to be his finest novel.  Absalom  Absalom is, quite simply, a superior detective story and a great ...

Mystery #3 for Literary Snobs: Labyrinths by Jorge Luis Borges

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Any excuse to read this South American grandmaster is a good one. Luckily for us, mysteries were his favorite fiction. As fellow South American author Alberto Manguel reminisced about Jorge Luis Borges in his piece in the 2006 Criminal Content issue of Words Without Borders: "He loved detective novels. He found in their formulae the ...

Mystery #2 for Literary Snobs: The Crying of Lot 49 by Thomas Pynchon

  With our second mystery, we move from the surreal river running through the dark continent to the surreal freeways running through sunny California. Same themes, same structure. In Thomas Pynchon's The Crying of Lot 49, our reluctant detective is Oedipa Mass, a California housewife whose name is our first hint at ...

Mystery #1 for Literary Snobs: Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad

The topic of my last post on the Poisoned Pen Press blog was about the challenge of convincing literary snobs that there are indeed great works of literature that meet all criteria of that lowly genre known as Mystery. The 3 basic requirements of the genre (as more fully explained ...

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