Discussion:
The Big and the Obvious: American Literature
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Joe Bernstein
2019-07-06 20:58:45 UTC
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I've recently made the acquaintance of an economics graduate student
at the university where I spend most of my time. He's from West
Bengal in India, but hopes to do what he's studying as a career, in
the US. Presumably because of this, he's started reading American
books: <The Great Gatsby>, and now he's reading <The Grapes of Wrath>.

Being who I am, I interpreted these statements as a request for
recommendations even though I knew better, and ploughed right in.
First I went for periods, in the "mainstream":

<Adventures of Huckleberry Finn>, 1885 (with the note that he might
want to read <The Adventures of Tom Sawyer>, 1876, first)

<Little Women>, 1868-1869 (but now sometimes published including
sequels dated 1871 and 1886, which I forgot but in any event don't
think he really needed to know)

The late twentieth century bothered me briefly, until I remembered,
um, something big and obvious:

<Native Son>, 1940 (oops as to date)

while allowing as how <The Color Purple>, 1982, which I haven't read,
would probably be a reasonable substitute. He mentioned at this
point that he *had* read <The Bluest Eye> by Toni Morrison (1970),
and intended to read her <Song of Solomon>, 1977, and her famous book,
whose title neither of us remembered at the time (<Beloved>, 1987).

I vaguely mentioned that he should probably try something by someone
like Hawthorne or Thoreau, but didn't think of <The Scarlet Letter>,
1850, and wouldn't have suggested <Moby-Dick>, 1851, if I *had*
thought of it. Back to this period below.

Because the reason I'm posting about this here (well, other than
garrulity) is that I then went on to genres. Now, my criteria here
were that the book had to be hugely famous and still read, *and*
should have some intrinsic American-ness to it. (So even if <Little,
Big> were that kind of famous, at some level it's too British to
qualify. The point of those criteria was that I thought each of his
first two choices served his American culture education in both these
ways - these are books Americans generally have heard of, and many
have read, *and* they say things about America - so anything I
suggested should do the same.)

So for science fiction I saw no alternative to Ray Bradbury,
specifically <The Martian Chronicles>, 1946-1950, first compiled as
such 1950, and <Fahrenheit 451>, 1953.

For fantasy, I was stumped a little while, but finally went with
another children's book, <The Wonderful Wizard of Oz>, 1900.

I tried for mystery, but came up only with two very tentative ideas:
John D. MacDonald's Travis McGee books (though they're hardly
household names), or Poe (a household name, but is Dupin, which I
haven't read, really "American" ?). I see now that I should've
thought of Dashiell Hammett or Raymond Chandler, but I've read
neither, and am not sure <The Maltese Falcon>, let alone anything of
Chandler's, is really *that* famous.

Having failed on a genre I thought I sorta knew, I didn't try any
others.

Any suggestions on that score, on yet other genres, or the on-topic
ones? I see this guy occasionally, and he's finding <The Grapes of
Wrath> kind of a slog, so there's time.

Joe Bernstein

PS <The Stranger>, now Seattle's only alt-um-biweekly, publishes a
calendar of entertainment events, of course, and for some time now
the first page of that has been devoted to "THE BIG & THE OBVIOUS".
I have a complicated relationship with <The Stranger>, but I sure
like that title.
<https://www.thestranger.com/>
but they don't seem to use it in the online edition.
--
Joe Bernstein <***@gmail.com>
m***@sky.com
2019-07-07 04:54:47 UTC
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Permalink
Post by Joe Bernstein
I've recently made the acquaintance of an economics graduate student
at the university where I spend most of my time. He's from West
Bengal in India, but hopes to do what he's studying as a career, in
the US. Presumably because of this, he's started reading American
books: <The Great Gatsby>, and now he's reading <The Grapes of Wrath>.
Being who I am, I interpreted these statements as a request for
recommendations even though I knew better, and ploughed right in.
<Adventures of Huckleberry Finn>, 1885 (with the note that he might
want to read <The Adventures of Tom Sawyer>, 1876, first)
<Little Women>, 1868-1869 (but now sometimes published including
sequels dated 1871 and 1886, which I forgot but in any event don't
think he really needed to know)
The late twentieth century bothered me briefly, until I remembered,
<Native Son>, 1940 (oops as to date)
while allowing as how <The Color Purple>, 1982, which I haven't read,
would probably be a reasonable substitute. He mentioned at this
point that he *had* read <The Bluest Eye> by Toni Morrison (1970),
and intended to read her <Song of Solomon>, 1977, and her famous book,
whose title neither of us remembered at the time (<Beloved>, 1987).
I vaguely mentioned that he should probably try something by someone
like Hawthorne or Thoreau, but didn't think of <The Scarlet Letter>,
1850, and wouldn't have suggested <Moby-Dick>, 1851, if I *had*
thought of it. Back to this period below.
Because the reason I'm posting about this here (well, other than
garrulity) is that I then went on to genres. Now, my criteria here
were that the book had to be hugely famous and still read, *and*
should have some intrinsic American-ness to it. (So even if <Little,
Big> were that kind of famous, at some level it's too British to
qualify. The point of those criteria was that I thought each of his
first two choices served his American culture education in both these
ways - these are books Americans generally have heard of, and many
have read, *and* they say things about America - so anything I
suggested should do the same.)
So for science fiction I saw no alternative to Ray Bradbury,
specifically <The Martian Chronicles>, 1946-1950, first compiled as
such 1950, and <Fahrenheit 451>, 1953.
For fantasy, I was stumped a little while, but finally went with
another children's book, <The Wonderful Wizard of Oz>, 1900.
John D. MacDonald's Travis McGee books (though they're hardly
household names), or Poe (a household name, but is Dupin, which I
haven't read, really "American" ?). I see now that I should've
thought of Dashiell Hammett or Raymond Chandler, but I've read
neither, and am not sure <The Maltese Falcon>, let alone anything of
Chandler's, is really *that* famous.
Having failed on a genre I thought I sorta knew, I didn't try any
others.
Any suggestions on that score, on yet other genres, or the on-topic
ones? I see this guy occasionally, and he's finding <The Grapes of
Wrath> kind of a slog, so there's time.
Joe Bernstein
PS <The Stranger>, now Seattle's only alt-um-biweekly, publishes a
calendar of entertainment events, of course, and for some time now
the first page of that has been devoted to "THE BIG & THE OBVIOUS".
I have a complicated relationship with <The Stranger>, but I sure
like that title.
<https://www.thestranger.com/>
but they don't seem to use it in the online edition.
--
I would suggest Heinlein rather than Bradbury as specifically American, because of the multiple references in books such as "The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress" and "If this goes on/ Revolt in 2100" to the American revolution.

Fortunately for your correspondent, I imagine that his career will depend on judgements about natural experiments and economic models, rather than dangerous subjects such as what constitutes American books and whether they are the proper reading for somebody from West Bengal, rather than something that sustains a West Bengali or International heritage. Perhaps I am influenced by the atmosphere in the UK, where a Labour MP posted a picture of an England flag and a white van in a sneering tweet and caused a stir (https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-30148768) but I don't associate enthusiastic patriotism with some shades of political opinion. Do faculty members in American universities applaud some more sophisticated version of American exceptionalism and manifest destiny of which I am unaware, or are they at the moment backing American women's soccer, which seems united in its desire to go anywhere for American soccer except the White House?
J. Clarke
2019-07-07 05:07:25 UTC
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Permalink
Post by m***@sky.com
Post by Joe Bernstein
I've recently made the acquaintance of an economics graduate student
at the university where I spend most of my time. He's from West
Bengal in India, but hopes to do what he's studying as a career, in
the US. Presumably because of this, he's started reading American
books: <The Great Gatsby>, and now he's reading <The Grapes of Wrath>.
Being who I am, I interpreted these statements as a request for
recommendations even though I knew better, and ploughed right in.
<Adventures of Huckleberry Finn>, 1885 (with the note that he might
want to read <The Adventures of Tom Sawyer>, 1876, first)
<Little Women>, 1868-1869 (but now sometimes published including
sequels dated 1871 and 1886, which I forgot but in any event don't
think he really needed to know)
The late twentieth century bothered me briefly, until I remembered,
<Native Son>, 1940 (oops as to date)
while allowing as how <The Color Purple>, 1982, which I haven't read,
would probably be a reasonable substitute. He mentioned at this
point that he *had* read <The Bluest Eye> by Toni Morrison (1970),
and intended to read her <Song of Solomon>, 1977, and her famous book,
whose title neither of us remembered at the time (<Beloved>, 1987).
I vaguely mentioned that he should probably try something by someone
like Hawthorne or Thoreau, but didn't think of <The Scarlet Letter>,
1850, and wouldn't have suggested <Moby-Dick>, 1851, if I *had*
thought of it. Back to this period below.
Because the reason I'm posting about this here (well, other than
garrulity) is that I then went on to genres. Now, my criteria here
were that the book had to be hugely famous and still read, *and*
should have some intrinsic American-ness to it. (So even if <Little,
Big> were that kind of famous, at some level it's too British to
qualify. The point of those criteria was that I thought each of his
first two choices served his American culture education in both these
ways - these are books Americans generally have heard of, and many
have read, *and* they say things about America - so anything I
suggested should do the same.)
So for science fiction I saw no alternative to Ray Bradbury,
specifically <The Martian Chronicles>, 1946-1950, first compiled as
such 1950, and <Fahrenheit 451>, 1953.
For fantasy, I was stumped a little while, but finally went with
another children's book, <The Wonderful Wizard of Oz>, 1900.
John D. MacDonald's Travis McGee books (though they're hardly
household names), or Poe (a household name, but is Dupin, which I
haven't read, really "American" ?). I see now that I should've
thought of Dashiell Hammett or Raymond Chandler, but I've read
neither, and am not sure <The Maltese Falcon>, let alone anything of
Chandler's, is really *that* famous.
Having failed on a genre I thought I sorta knew, I didn't try any
others.
Any suggestions on that score, on yet other genres, or the on-topic
ones? I see this guy occasionally, and he's finding <The Grapes of
Wrath> kind of a slog, so there's time.
Joe Bernstein
PS <The Stranger>, now Seattle's only alt-um-biweekly, publishes a
calendar of entertainment events, of course, and for some time now
the first page of that has been devoted to "THE BIG & THE OBVIOUS".
I have a complicated relationship with <The Stranger>, but I sure
like that title.
<https://www.thestranger.com/>
but they don't seem to use it in the online edition.
--
I would suggest Heinlein rather than Bradbury as specifically American, because of the multiple references in books such as "The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress" and "If this goes on/ Revolt in 2100" to the American revolution.
Just had occasion to reread "The Illustrated Man". I really don't
understand why Bradbury is so highly regarded. He appears to have no
understanding of any of the sciences, including economics, making it
hard for me to read through the facepalm. While this would not be
surprising given the amount of time I've spent studying the sciences
and working in engineering, I recall the same facepalm occuring when I
was 12 and reading it for the first time.

I have difficulty recommending Bradbury to anyone who is not a
lit-her-a-tour major.
Post by m***@sky.com
Fortunately for your correspondent, I imagine that his career will depend on judgements about natural experiments and economic models, rather than dangerous subjects such as what constitutes American books and whether they are the proper reading for somebody from West Bengal, rather than something that sustains a West Bengali or International heritage. Perhaps I am influenced by the atmosphere in the UK, where a Labour MP posted a picture of an England flag and a white van in a sneering tweet and caused a stir (https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-30148768) but I don't associate enthusiastic patriotism with some shades of political opinion. Do faculty members in American universities applaud some more sophisticated version of American exceptionalism and manifest destiny of which I am unaware, or are they at the moment backing American women's soccer, which seems united in its desire to go anywhere for American soccer except the White House?
Joe Bernstein
2019-07-07 23:37:12 UTC
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Permalink
Post by J. Clarke
Post by Joe Bernstein
I've recently made the acquaintance of an economics graduate student
at the university where I spend most of my time. He's from West
Bengal in India, but hopes to do what he's studying as a career, in
the US. Presumably because of this, he's started reading American
books: <The Great Gatsby>, and now he's reading <The Grapes of Wrath>.
Being who I am, I interpreted these statements as a request for
recommendations even though I knew better, and ploughed right in.
[snip]
Post by J. Clarke
Post by Joe Bernstein
Because the reason I'm posting about this here (well, other than
garrulity) is that I then went on to genres. Now, my criteria here
were that the book had to be hugely famous and still read, *and*
should have some intrinsic American-ness to it.
So for science fiction I saw no alternative to Ray Bradbury,
specifically <The Martian Chronicles>, 1946-1950, first compiled as
such 1950, and <Fahrenheit 451>, 1953.
Just had occasion to reread "The Illustrated Man". I really don't
understand why Bradbury is so highly regarded. He appears to have no
understanding of any of the sciences, including economics, making it
hard for me to read through the facepalm. While this would not be
surprising given the amount of time I've spent studying the sciences
and working in engineering, I recall the same facepalm occuring when I
was 12 and reading it for the first time.
I have difficulty recommending Bradbury to anyone who is not a
lit-her-a-tour major.
Huh.

It's a long time since I read Bradbury but I don't remember anything
like your aversion, just he isn't a writer I read much. That said,
I wasn't crazy about picking him for that reason. I don't find
Heinlein an acceptable substitute - nothing he's written is crazy
famous, and I don't think his fiction is as simply American as I'm
going for. (Bradbury is, here, a special case. Neither of his most
famous books is as famous as his name is - he's kinda like Poe that
way - whereas most of these books are at least as well-known in their
own rights as their authors. The only sf I can think of that fits
*that* criterion is British - <Brave New World> and <1984>. Same
with mystery, actually - Sherlock Holmes, with the runner-up another
author more famous than her titles, Agatha Christie.)

Any other possibilities? <Dune> may be as famous but isn't all that
American. Others?

Joe Bernstein
--
Joe Bernstein <***@gmail.com>
Joe Bernstein
2019-07-07 23:30:52 UTC
Reply
Permalink
Post by m***@sky.com
Post by Joe Bernstein
I've recently made the acquaintance of an economics graduate student
at the university where I spend most of my time. He's from West
Bengal in India, but hopes to do what he's studying as a career, in
the US. Presumably because of this, he's started reading American
books: <The Great Gatsby>, and now he's reading <The Grapes of Wrath>.
Being who I am, I interpreted these statements as a request for
recommendations even though I knew better, and ploughed right in.
[snip]
Post by m***@sky.com
Post by Joe Bernstein
Because the reason I'm posting about this here (well, other than
garrulity) is that I then went on to genres. Now, my criteria here
were that the book had to be hugely famous and still read, *and*
should have some intrinsic American-ness to it.
So for science fiction I saw no alternative to Ray Bradbury,
specifically <The Martian Chronicles>, 1946-1950, first compiled as
such 1950, and <Fahrenheit 451>, 1953.
I would suggest Heinlein rather than Bradbury as specifically
American, because of the multiple references in books such as "The
Moon Is a Harsh Mistress" and "If this goes on/ Revolt in 2100" to the
American revolution.
One reason Heinlein is problematic is exemplified by <The Moon Is a
Harsh Mistress>. He's so objective about the US, in that at least
and I think in his fiction in general, that he comes across as
outside it. (I haven't read all that much Bradbury but I find it
hard to imagine *ever* accusing him of objectivity about the US.)

I haven't read the other title you mention.

I have trouble imagining recommending <Starship Troopers> or even
<Tunnel in the Sky> for this purpose. <Moon> at least says more
explicitly about America.
Post by m***@sky.com
Fortunately for your correspondent, I imagine that his career will
depend on judgements about natural experiments and economic models,
rather than dangerous subjects such as what constitutes American books
and whether they are the proper reading for somebody from West Bengal,
rather than something that sustains a West Bengali or International
heritage.
One reason he's finding <The Grapes of Wrath> a slog, of course, is
that it's in English. His spoken English is excellent, and I'm sure
everything he reads in his field is in English (or anyway not in
Bengali or any other language whose script is derived from Devanagari),
but still, Bengali is what he's mostly read for pleasure. (I have no
idea how literate he is in, nor how much he reads in, Hindi or other
Indo-Aryan/Devnag languages.) Fiction calls for bigger vocabularies
than specialised non-fiction too. (I can read the latter, but not
fiction, in the languages I studied in high school.)

He wants a career in the corporate, not the academic, world. I find
it hard to imagine that he'd be asked by an interviewer about his
pleasure reading - and anyway I doubt these books are exactly
"pleasure" reading for him.

He may be preparing to seek citizenship in an unusual way. This sort
of reading seems much more obviously closer to relevant to that.

(Also, economics is not the typical social science in American
universities. Many economists are known to be politically well to
the right of Elizabeth Warren, and some are well to the right of
the current U.S. president. They are not, in general, politically
correct.)
Post by m***@sky.com
Perhaps I am influenced by the atmosphere in the UK, where a
Labour MP posted a picture of an England flag and a white van in a
sneering tweet and caused a stir
(https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-30148768) but I don't
associate enthusiastic patriotism with some shades of political
opinion. Do faculty members in American universities applaud some more
sophisticated version of American exceptionalism and manifest destiny
of which I am unaware, or are they at the moment backing American
women's soccer, which seems united in its desire to go anywhere for
American soccer except the White House?
I think faculty members of most humanities and non-econ soc-sci
departments probably vary a good bit, but many probably aren't immune
to weak-tea versions of nationalism. Some older ones are still
vocally nationalistic or otherwise hawkish, I'm sure, given that
people like
<https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Samuel_P._Huntington>
are not long dead.

This isn't the same thing as exceptionalism and manifest destiny,
but to be nationalistic, intelligent, informed, and of good will
means to *want* your country to be exceptional, whether or not you
believe it already is. Part of what's taken as un-American in left-
wing professors is sometimes actually a passionate demand that we be
as good as we want to think we are.

That said, there are also flaming leftists of more stereotypical
kinds.

Joe Bernstein
--
Joe Bernstein <***@gmail.com>
J. Clarke
2019-07-07 23:57:50 UTC
Reply
Permalink
On Sun, 7 Jul 2019 23:30:52 -0000 (UTC), Joe Bernstein
Post by Joe Bernstein
Post by m***@sky.com
Post by Joe Bernstein
I've recently made the acquaintance of an economics graduate student
at the university where I spend most of my time. He's from West
Bengal in India, but hopes to do what he's studying as a career, in
the US. Presumably because of this, he's started reading American
books: <The Great Gatsby>, and now he's reading <The Grapes of Wrath>.
Being who I am, I interpreted these statements as a request for
recommendations even though I knew better, and ploughed right in.
[snip]
Post by m***@sky.com
Post by Joe Bernstein
Because the reason I'm posting about this here (well, other than
garrulity) is that I then went on to genres. Now, my criteria here
were that the book had to be hugely famous and still read, *and*
should have some intrinsic American-ness to it.
So for science fiction I saw no alternative to Ray Bradbury,
specifically <The Martian Chronicles>, 1946-1950, first compiled as
such 1950, and <Fahrenheit 451>, 1953.
I would suggest Heinlein rather than Bradbury as specifically
American, because of the multiple references in books such as "The
Moon Is a Harsh Mistress" and "If this goes on/ Revolt in 2100" to the
American revolution.
One reason Heinlein is problematic is exemplified by <The Moon Is a
Harsh Mistress>. He's so objective about the US, in that at least
and I think in his fiction in general, that he comes across as
outside it. (I haven't read all that much Bradbury but I find it
hard to imagine *ever* accusing him of objectivity about the US.)
I haven't read the other title you mention.
I have trouble imagining recommending <Starship Troopers> or even
<Tunnel in the Sky> for this purpose. <Moon> at least says more
explicitly about America.
Post by m***@sky.com
Fortunately for your correspondent, I imagine that his career will
depend on judgements about natural experiments and economic models,
rather than dangerous subjects such as what constitutes American books
and whether they are the proper reading for somebody from West Bengal,
rather than something that sustains a West Bengali or International
heritage.
One reason he's finding <The Grapes of Wrath> a slog, of course, is
that it's in English. His spoken English is excellent, and I'm sure
everything he reads in his field is in English (or anyway not in
Bengali or any other language whose script is derived from Devanagari),
but still, Bengali is what he's mostly read for pleasure. (I have no
idea how literate he is in, nor how much he reads in, Hindi or other
Indo-Aryan/Devnag languages.) Fiction calls for bigger vocabularies
than specialised non-fiction too. (I can read the latter, but not
fiction, in the languages I studied in high school.)
He wants a career in the corporate, not the academic, world. I find
it hard to imagine that he'd be asked by an interviewer about his
pleasure reading - and anyway I doubt these books are exactly
"pleasure" reading for him.
Just a note but has he considered becoming an actuary? If not he
might want to look into it at least deeply enough to decide that he's
not interested.
Post by Joe Bernstein
He may be preparing to seek citizenship in an unusual way. This sort
of reading seems much more obviously closer to relevant to that.
(Also, economics is not the typical social science in American
universities. Many economists are known to be politically well to
the right of Elizabeth Warren, and some are well to the right of
the current U.S. president. They are not, in general, politically
correct.)
Post by m***@sky.com
Perhaps I am influenced by the atmosphere in the UK, where a
Labour MP posted a picture of an England flag and a white van in a
sneering tweet and caused a stir
(https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-30148768) but I don't
associate enthusiastic patriotism with some shades of political
opinion. Do faculty members in American universities applaud some more
sophisticated version of American exceptionalism and manifest destiny
of which I am unaware, or are they at the moment backing American
women's soccer, which seems united in its desire to go anywhere for
American soccer except the White House?
I think faculty members of most humanities and non-econ soc-sci
departments probably vary a good bit, but many probably aren't immune
to weak-tea versions of nationalism. Some older ones are still
vocally nationalistic or otherwise hawkish, I'm sure, given that
people like
<https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Samuel_P._Huntington>
are not long dead.
This isn't the same thing as exceptionalism and manifest destiny,
but to be nationalistic, intelligent, informed, and of good will
means to *want* your country to be exceptional, whether or not you
believe it already is. Part of what's taken as un-American in left-
wing professors is sometimes actually a passionate demand that we be
as good as we want to think we are.
That said, there are also flaming leftists of more stereotypical
kinds.
Joe Bernstein
m***@sky.com
2019-07-08 04:57:57 UTC
Reply
Permalink
Post by Joe Bernstein
Post by m***@sky.com
Post by Joe Bernstein
I've recently made the acquaintance of an economics graduate student
at the university where I spend most of my time. He's from West
Bengal in India, but hopes to do what he's studying as a career, in
the US. Presumably because of this, he's started reading American
books: <The Great Gatsby>, and now he's reading <The Grapes of Wrath>.
Being who I am, I interpreted these statements as a request for
recommendations even though I knew better, and ploughed right in.
[snip]
Post by m***@sky.com
Post by Joe Bernstein
Because the reason I'm posting about this here (well, other than
garrulity) is that I then went on to genres. Now, my criteria here
were that the book had to be hugely famous and still read, *and*
should have some intrinsic American-ness to it.
So for science fiction I saw no alternative to Ray Bradbury,
specifically <The Martian Chronicles>, 1946-1950, first compiled as
such 1950, and <Fahrenheit 451>, 1953.
I would suggest Heinlein rather than Bradbury as specifically
American, because of the multiple references in books such as "The
Moon Is a Harsh Mistress" and "If this goes on/ Revolt in 2100" to the
American revolution.
One reason Heinlein is problematic is exemplified by <The Moon Is a
Harsh Mistress>. He's so objective about the US, in that at least
and I think in his fiction in general, that he comes across as
outside it. (I haven't read all that much Bradbury but I find it
hard to imagine *ever* accusing him of objectivity about the US.)
I haven't read the other title you mention.
I have trouble imagining recommending <Starship Troopers> or even
<Tunnel in the Sky> for this purpose. <Moon> at least says more
explicitly about America.
Not Science Fiction, but for the myths of small town America (and a good read) there's "Lake Wobegon Days" by Keillor. Since the future is more and more likely to be urban, it may be a warning sign that I can't think of an urban equivalent - but then SF often shows the future as a warning. How about Niven and Pournelle's "Oath of Fealty"? - If he _was_ a social scientist he could just answer all of the questions that "Oath of Fealty" poses and then he'd have an impressive journal article at the very least, and perhaps have won tenure somewhere.
Ted Nolan <tednolan>
2019-07-08 05:43:17 UTC
Reply
Permalink
Post by m***@sky.com
Not Science Fiction, but for the myths of small town America (and a good
read) there's "Lake Wobegon Days" by Keillor. Since the future is more
and more likely to be urban, it may be a warning sign that I can't think
of an urban equivalent - but then SF often shows the future as a
"More and more likely"? Why so? I'd say less and less likely.
The "office" makes less sense every year, and even if you do have to show
up somewhere every day for some reason, self driving cars where you can
sleep away the commute are going to militate towards living further and
further away from the mess.
--
------
columbiaclosings.com
What's not in Columbia anymore..
J. Clarke
2019-07-08 10:32:44 UTC
Reply
Permalink
Post by Ted Nolan <tednolan>
Post by m***@sky.com
Not Science Fiction, but for the myths of small town America (and a good
read) there's "Lake Wobegon Days" by Keillor. Since the future is more
and more likely to be urban, it may be a warning sign that I can't think
of an urban equivalent - but then SF often shows the future as a
"More and more likely"? Why so? I'd say less and less likely.
The "office" makes less sense every year, and even if you do have to show
up somewhere every day for some reason, self driving cars where you can
sleep away the commute are going to militate towards living further and
further away from the mess.
The trend is toward the population living in cities. The notion of
"working from home" has its advocates, but we're going to need vastly
better technology before we can actually do it. To take one
example--our company has a policy that managers and their subordinates
should meet briefly several times a week to discuss what is going on
in their department. We used to do this with a whiteboard. It took
about 10 minutes unless some issue came up that merited more time. Now
we use software to do it and some team members "work from home" and it
takes a half an hour or more, and sometimes doesn't happen at all
because the cloud-based software is down. There is no substitute yet
for a face to face meeting.

Personally I can work from home if I want to and I find that I am less
productive and less involved when I do.
Juho Julkunen
2019-07-08 11:05:22 UTC
Reply
Permalink
In article <***@mid.individual.net>, ***@loft.tnolan.com
says...
Post by Ted Nolan <tednolan>
Post by m***@sky.com
Not Science Fiction, but for the myths of small town America (and a good
read) there's "Lake Wobegon Days" by Keillor. Since the future is more
and more likely to be urban, it may be a warning sign that I can't think
of an urban equivalent - but then SF often shows the future as a
"More and more likely"? Why so? I'd say less and less likely.
The "office" makes less sense every year, and even if you do have to show
up somewhere every day for some reason, self driving cars where you can
sleep away the commute are going to militate towards living further and
further away from the mess.
But the mess is where people want to live. Or rather, people like to
live where other people are, because that's where the opportunities
are, whether economic, romantic, or otherwise.

The fraction of people living in cities has been increasing for all of
recorded history. Sure, the trend may reverse one day, but I wouldn't
hold my breath.
--
Juho Julkunen
Dorothy J Heydt
2019-07-08 15:00:45 UTC
Reply
Permalink
Post by Ted Nolan <tednolan>
Post by m***@sky.com
Not Science Fiction, but for the myths of small town America (and a good
read) there's "Lake Wobegon Days" by Keillor. Since the future is more
and more likely to be urban, it may be a warning sign that I can't think
of an urban equivalent - but then SF often shows the future as a
"More and more likely"? Why so? I'd say less and less likely.
The "office" makes less sense every year, and even if you do have to show
up somewhere every day for some reason, self driving cars where you can
sleep away the commute are going to militate towards living further and
further away from the mess.
Okay, you are speaking your personal tastes, and that's fine.
But the phenomenon of people leaving the countryside and coming
into the cities is not new. It was particularly noticeable in
the 1950s, during the Industrial Revolution, and in the Middle
Ages (where, if you were a serf and a craftsman, and could live
in a city for a year and a day, you were a free man and couldn't
be dragged back to the manor). But it goes all the way back to
the Agricultural Revolution of 10,000 BCE or so, when if you
lived out in the open, your nomadic neighbors tended to grab off
your produce unless you built walls around it.

Some people are now able to telecommute, and if you can arrange
to do that, good for you. But the tendency is the other way.
--
Dorothy J. Heydt
Vallejo, California
djheydt at gmail dot com
www.kithrup.com/~djheydt/
Peter Trei
2019-07-08 15:38:48 UTC
Reply
Permalink
Post by Dorothy J Heydt
Post by Ted Nolan <tednolan>
Post by m***@sky.com
Not Science Fiction, but for the myths of small town America (and a good
read) there's "Lake Wobegon Days" by Keillor. Since the future is more
and more likely to be urban, it may be a warning sign that I can't think
of an urban equivalent - but then SF often shows the future as a
"More and more likely"? Why so? I'd say less and less likely.
The "office" makes less sense every year, and even if you do have to show
up somewhere every day for some reason, self driving cars where you can
sleep away the commute are going to militate towards living further and
further away from the mess.
Okay, you are speaking your personal tastes, and that's fine.
But the phenomenon of people leaving the countryside and coming
into the cities is not new. It was particularly noticeable in
the 1950s, during the Industrial Revolution, and in the Middle
Ages (where, if you were a serf and a craftsman, and could live
in a city for a year and a day, you were a free man and couldn't
be dragged back to the manor). But it goes all the way back to
the Agricultural Revolution of 10,000 BCE or so, when if you
lived out in the open, your nomadic neighbors tended to grab off
your produce unless you built walls around it.
Some people are now able to telecommute, and if you can arrange
to do that, good for you. But the tendency is the other way.
At my current office, we've had a 9/80 schedule for a few years,
giving alternate Fridays off, and I've been working from home
Tuesdays and (other alternate) Fridays for some time.

Corporate just decided that this is a problem, and declared that
employees who average less than 12 days a month in the office
(vacations, holidays, and corporate travel days all count as 'not
in office'), can't have a permanent full time office or cubicle.

I'm pretty annoyed by this, though the rest of my team decided that
rather then 'hotdesk' cubes a couple days a week with another group,
we'd all go full time remote. I *could* come in and use one of the 'hotel'
cubes, or make sure I'm above the 12 day threshold, but I'd be here without
my group, by myself, and that does not appeal.

Working 100% remote has some advantages; you don't spend much time or money
commuting, you can live further away, and have the option to run brief errands
at home. We're going to use Skype video to interact within the group.

But you miss the face to face social interaction, not just with your own team,
but also with other people in the company, the contacts which will help your
career. It's not like you can do lunch together anymore, and to senior
mangement you're a never seen, never heard name on a list.

I'm not happy about this, despite saving about 6 hour's driving a week.

pt
Ted Nolan <tednolan>
2019-07-08 16:30:36 UTC
Reply
Permalink
Post by Peter Trei
Post by Dorothy J Heydt
Post by Ted Nolan <tednolan>
Post by m***@sky.com
Not Science Fiction, but for the myths of small town America (and a good
read) there's "Lake Wobegon Days" by Keillor. Since the future is more
and more likely to be urban, it may be a warning sign that I can't think
of an urban equivalent - but then SF often shows the future as a
"More and more likely"? Why so? I'd say less and less likely.
The "office" makes less sense every year, and even if you do have to show
up somewhere every day for some reason, self driving cars where you can
sleep away the commute are going to militate towards living further and
further away from the mess.
Okay, you are speaking your personal tastes, and that's fine.
But the phenomenon of people leaving the countryside and coming
into the cities is not new. It was particularly noticeable in
the 1950s, during the Industrial Revolution, and in the Middle
Ages (where, if you were a serf and a craftsman, and could live
in a city for a year and a day, you were a free man and couldn't
be dragged back to the manor). But it goes all the way back to
the Agricultural Revolution of 10,000 BCE or so, when if you
lived out in the open, your nomadic neighbors tended to grab off
your produce unless you built walls around it.
Some people are now able to telecommute, and if you can arrange
to do that, good for you. But the tendency is the other way.
At my current office, we've had a 9/80 schedule for a few years,
giving alternate Fridays off, and I've been working from home
Tuesdays and (other alternate) Fridays for some time.
Corporate just decided that this is a problem, and declared that
employees who average less than 12 days a month in the office
(vacations, holidays, and corporate travel days all count as 'not
in office'), can't have a permanent full time office or cubicle.
I'm pretty annoyed by this, though the rest of my team decided that
rather then 'hotdesk' cubes a couple days a week with another group,
we'd all go full time remote. I *could* come in and use one of the 'hotel'
cubes, or make sure I'm above the 12 day threshold, but I'd be here without
my group, by myself, and that does not appeal.
Working 100% remote has some advantages; you don't spend much time or money
commuting, you can live further away, and have the option to run brief errands
at home. We're going to use Skype video to interact within the group.
But you miss the face to face social interaction, not just with your own team,
but also with other people in the company, the contacts which will help your
career. It's not like you can do lunch together anymore, and to senior
mangement you're a never seen, never heard name on a list.
I'm not happy about this, despite saving about 6 hour's driving a week.
pt
Well,

I started in an office, then worked remotely for 5 years, then in an office,
then remotely again.

I was never more miserable than in that second office, once having tasted
freedom.

Social interaction is overrated.

And on the "city" thing -- I live in a bedroom community of a medium sized
city. So, I'm not saying everybody would live in the sticks, though that
should be possible..
--
------
columbiaclosings.com
What's not in Columbia anymore..
Ahasuerus
2019-07-08 17:22:11 UTC
Reply
Permalink
On Monday, July 8, 2019 at 12:30:39 PM UTC-4, Ted Nolan <tednolan> wrote:
[snip-snip]
Post by Ted Nolan <tednolan>
And on the "city" thing -- I live in a bedroom community of a medium
sized city. So, I'm not saying everybody would live in the sticks,
though that should be possible..
I am not sure the term "city" is particularly useful for the purposes
of this discussion since it can be used to describe both concrete
jungles like downtown Tokyo/Manhattan and places like Malibu.

At the very least I would distinguish between urban areas, suburban
areas and rural areas. As of 2018, the population breakdown in the
US was:

Rural: 14%
Urban: 31%
Suburban: 55%
https://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2018/05/22/demographic-and-economic-trends-in-urban-suburban-and-rural-communities/
Kevrob
2019-07-08 17:28:57 UTC
Reply
Permalink
Post by Ted Nolan <tednolan>
Post by Peter Trei
Post by Dorothy J Heydt
Post by Ted Nolan <tednolan>
Post by m***@sky.com
Not Science Fiction, but for the myths of small town America (and a good
read) there's "Lake Wobegon Days" by Keillor. Since the future is more
and more likely to be urban, it may be a warning sign that I can't think
of an urban equivalent - but then SF often shows the future as a
"More and more likely"? Why so? I'd say less and less likely.
The "office" makes less sense every year, and even if you do have to show
up somewhere every day for some reason, self driving cars where you can
sleep away the commute are going to militate towards living further and
further away from the mess.
Okay, you are speaking your personal tastes, and that's fine.
But the phenomenon of people leaving the countryside and coming
into the cities is not new. It was particularly noticeable in
the 1950s, during the Industrial Revolution, and in the Middle
Ages (where, if you were a serf and a craftsman, and could live
in a city for a year and a day, you were a free man and couldn't
be dragged back to the manor). But it goes all the way back to
the Agricultural Revolution of 10,000 BCE or so, when if you
lived out in the open, your nomadic neighbors tended to grab off
your produce unless you built walls around it.
Some people are now able to telecommute, and if you can arrange
to do that, good for you. But the tendency is the other way.
At my current office, we've had a 9/80 schedule for a few years,
giving alternate Fridays off, and I've been working from home
Tuesdays and (other alternate) Fridays for some time.
Corporate just decided that this is a problem, and declared that
employees who average less than 12 days a month in the office
(vacations, holidays, and corporate travel days all count as 'not
in office'), can't have a permanent full time office or cubicle.
I'm pretty annoyed by this, though the rest of my team decided that
rather then 'hotdesk' cubes a couple days a week with another group,
we'd all go full time remote. I *could* come in and use one of the 'hotel'
cubes, or make sure I'm above the 12 day threshold, but I'd be here without
my group, by myself, and that does not appeal.
Working 100% remote has some advantages; you don't spend much time or money
commuting, you can live further away, and have the option to run brief errands
at home. We're going to use Skype video to interact within the group.
But you miss the face to face social interaction, not just with your own team,
but also with other people in the company, the contacts which will help your
career. It's not like you can do lunch together anymore, and to senior
mangement you're a never seen, never heard name on a list.
I'm not happy about this, despite saving about 6 hour's driving a week.
pt
Well,
I started in an office, then worked remotely for 5 years, then in an office,
then remotely again.
I was never more miserable than in that second office, once having tasted
freedom.
Social interaction is overrated.
And on the "city" thing -- I live in a bedroom community of a medium sized
city. So, I'm not saying everybody would live in the sticks, though that
should be possible..
I talk to customer who live "in the sticks" on a daily basis.
Some US folks only have access to the net through much slower
connections than an urban or suburban dweller would be used to.

[quote]

Roughly 39 percent of rural Americans lack access to high-speed
broadband, compared with just 4 percent of urban Americans, according
to a report from the FCC using 2016 figures.

[/quote]

https://www.cnet.com/news/why-rural-areas-cant-catch-a-break-on-speedy-broadband/

If you push out of the suburbs into the "exurbs," it makes
sense to make sure you will have access to some form of broadband,
so that you can telecommute efficiently.

A couple of years ago, when I was carless, I investigated whether
I could work from home. A few people in my work group do. However,
when they have a problem they can't handle online, they send messages
to me, and I have to fix them or send them on up the line to my
supervisors. If I worked from home, I wouldn't have the necessary
permissions to fix some of these problems, while when I work in the
office, I do. One issue is customer credit card security. I imagine
the company would have to pay more for software licenses that would
allow a home-based employee to handle a CC# securely the way those
of us in the office can. We are still using terminal emulation
software to access one point-of-sales/inventory/returns system,
while another major client is entirely web-based. The clients on
the old POS system operate on "Cheap is good. Cheapest is best."
Their websites, if they have them, are all turnkey, cookie-cutter
pages sourced through a third party. We still use batching of new
orders, so that if someone calls up 5 minutes after they place an
order, we can't edit it. We may not be able to for 5 hours. I expect
that many firms that could set up for more remote access by at-home
employees won't, because they don't want to invest capital to upgrade
or replace legacy systems. I'd also guess that, if they had only a few
folks working at a centralized location, they'd need to rent or buy
smaller spaces that the future at-home workers could visit for training.
Once they have a good grip on "the way WE do it," they could be set
loose to work from home. But keeping a larger space with a "bullpen"
of some permanent employees and as many temps as are needed for the
season of the year, expanding and contracting as needed, makes more
sense for them.

I actually work with one client who kept one of his employees at our
warehouse site's office. All customer care problems were much more
complicated than "is it plugged in?" had to be reduced to a summary
that matched The Official Form and emailed to that person, if she were
not able to answer the phone, and the calls were rerouted to our office.
The latency in getting a customer an answer was awful. It was a small
company, and someties the company CEO was the only one who could give
an answer that wouldn't get contradicted later on. The CEO would be back
at a home office in Britain, or on the road in Europe or North America,
trying to open up new markets.

Sometimes there is no substitute for popping into your immediate
superiors office and complaining about idiot behavior by clients. :)

Kevin R
Peter Trei
2019-07-08 17:54:26 UTC
Reply
Permalink
Post by Kevrob
Post by Ted Nolan <tednolan>
Post by Peter Trei
Post by Dorothy J Heydt
Post by Ted Nolan <tednolan>
Post by m***@sky.com
Not Science Fiction, but for the myths of small town America (and a good
read) there's "Lake Wobegon Days" by Keillor. Since the future is more
and more likely to be urban, it may be a warning sign that I can't think
of an urban equivalent - but then SF often shows the future as a
"More and more likely"? Why so? I'd say less and less likely.
The "office" makes less sense every year, and even if you do have to show
up somewhere every day for some reason, self driving cars where you can
sleep away the commute are going to militate towards living further and
further away from the mess.
Okay, you are speaking your personal tastes, and that's fine.
But the phenomenon of people leaving the countryside and coming
into the cities is not new. It was particularly noticeable in
the 1950s, during the Industrial Revolution, and in the Middle
Ages (where, if you were a serf and a craftsman, and could live
in a city for a year and a day, you were a free man and couldn't
be dragged back to the manor). But it goes all the way back to
the Agricultural Revolution of 10,000 BCE or so, when if you
lived out in the open, your nomadic neighbors tended to grab off
your produce unless you built walls around it.
Some people are now able to telecommute, and if you can arrange
to do that, good for you. But the tendency is the other way.
At my current office, we've had a 9/80 schedule for a few years,
giving alternate Fridays off, and I've been working from home
Tuesdays and (other alternate) Fridays for some time.
Corporate just decided that this is a problem, and declared that
employees who average less than 12 days a month in the office
(vacations, holidays, and corporate travel days all count as 'not
in office'), can't have a permanent full time office or cubicle.
I'm pretty annoyed by this, though the rest of my team decided that
rather then 'hotdesk' cubes a couple days a week with another group,
we'd all go full time remote. I *could* come in and use one of the 'hotel'
cubes, or make sure I'm above the 12 day threshold, but I'd be here without
my group, by myself, and that does not appeal.
Working 100% remote has some advantages; you don't spend much time or money
commuting, you can live further away, and have the option to run brief errands
at home. We're going to use Skype video to interact within the group.
But you miss the face to face social interaction, not just with your own team,
but also with other people in the company, the contacts which will help your
career. It's not like you can do lunch together anymore, and to senior
mangement you're a never seen, never heard name on a list.
I'm not happy about this, despite saving about 6 hour's driving a week.
pt
Well,
I started in an office, then worked remotely for 5 years, then in an office,
then remotely again.
I was never more miserable than in that second office, once having tasted
freedom.
Social interaction is overrated.
And on the "city" thing -- I live in a bedroom community of a medium sized
city. So, I'm not saying everybody would live in the sticks, though that
should be possible..
I talk to customer who live "in the sticks" on a daily basis.
Some US folks only have access to the net through much slower
connections than an urban or suburban dweller would be used to.
[quote]
Roughly 39 percent of rural Americans lack access to high-speed
broadband, compared with just 4 percent of urban Americans, according
to a report from the FCC using 2016 figures.
[/quote]
https://www.cnet.com/news/why-rural-areas-cant-catch-a-break-on-speedy-broadband/
If you push out of the suburbs into the "exurbs," it makes
sense to make sure you will have access to some form of broadband,
so that you can telecommute efficiently.
A couple of years ago, when I was carless, I investigated whether
I could work from home. A few people in my work group do. However,
when they have a problem they can't handle online, they send messages
to me, and I have to fix them or send them on up the line to my
supervisors. If I worked from home, I wouldn't have the necessary
permissions to fix some of these problems, while when I work in the
office, I do. One issue is customer credit card security. I imagine
the company would have to pay more for software licenses that would
allow a home-based employee to handle a CC# securely the way those
of us in the office can. We are still using terminal emulation
software to access one point-of-sales/inventory/returns system,
while another major client is entirely web-based. The clients on
the old POS system operate on "Cheap is good. Cheapest is best."
Their websites, if they have them, are all turnkey, cookie-cutter
pages sourced through a third party. We still use batching of new
orders, so that if someone calls up 5 minutes after they place an
order, we can't edit it. We may not be able to for 5 hours. I expect
that many firms that could set up for more remote access by at-home
employees won't, because they don't want to invest capital to upgrade
or replace legacy systems. I'd also guess that, if they had only a few
folks working at a centralized location, they'd need to rent or buy
smaller spaces that the future at-home workers could visit for training.
Once they have a good grip on "the way WE do it," they could be set
loose to work from home. But keeping a larger space with a "bullpen"
of some permanent employees and as many temps as are needed for the
season of the year, expanding and contracting as needed, makes more
sense for them.
I actually work with one client who kept one of his employees at our
warehouse site's office. All customer care problems were much more
complicated than "is it plugged in?" had to be reduced to a summary
that matched The Official Form and emailed to that person, if she were
not able to answer the phone, and the calls were rerouted to our office.
The latency in getting a customer an answer was awful. It was a small
company, and someties the company CEO was the only one who could give
an answer that wouldn't get contradicted later on. The CEO would be back
at a home office in Britain, or on the road in Europe or North America,
trying to open up new markets.
Sometimes there is no substitute for popping into your immediate
superiors office and complaining about idiot behavior by clients. :)
Kevin R
When I work from home, I use a company supplied laptop, with a company
supplied VPN (over my home WiFi). I'm allowed to do any non-classifed
thing I can do in the office. I also have a webcam and headset for Skype
teleconferences, as well as a phone.

Anything I need to do for my current work I can do from home.
But I can't wander over to a co-worker to discuss something casually, get
to know a manager from a different group over lunch, or listen in on people
and offer suggestions.

Everything is fine on the official, documentable functions. But the soft-skill
things, which can really get a team running, are missing.

pt
Dimensional Traveler
2019-07-08 18:37:33 UTC
Reply
Permalink
Post by Kevrob
Sometimes there is no substitute for popping into your immediate
superiors office and complaining about idiot behavior by clients. :)
If for no other reason than the absence of any written _proof_ of said
complaining. :)
--
Inquiring minds want to know while minds with a self-preservation
instinct are running screaming.
m***@sky.com
2019-07-08 18:45:31 UTC
Reply
Permalink
Post by Ted Nolan <tednolan>
Post by Peter Trei
Post by Dorothy J Heydt
Post by Ted Nolan <tednolan>
Post by m***@sky.com
Not Science Fiction, but for the myths of small town America (and a good
read) there's "Lake Wobegon Days" by Keillor. Since the future is more
and more likely to be urban, it may be a warning sign that I can't think
of an urban equivalent - but then SF often shows the future as a
"More and more likely"? Why so? I'd say less and less likely.
The "office" makes less sense every year, and even if you do have to show
up somewhere every day for some reason, self driving cars where you can
sleep away the commute are going to militate towards living further and
further away from the mess.
Okay, you are speaking your personal tastes, and that's fine.
But the phenomenon of people leaving the countryside and coming
into the cities is not new. It was particularly noticeable in
the 1950s, during the Industrial Revolution, and in the Middle
Ages (where, if you were a serf and a craftsman, and could live
in a city for a year and a day, you were a free man and couldn't
be dragged back to the manor). But it goes all the way back to
the Agricultural Revolution of 10,000 BCE or so, when if you
lived out in the open, your nomadic neighbors tended to grab off
your produce unless you built walls around it.
Some people are now able to telecommute, and if you can arrange
to do that, good for you. But the tendency is the other way.
At my current office, we've had a 9/80 schedule for a few years,
giving alternate Fridays off, and I've been working from home
Tuesdays and (other alternate) Fridays for some time.
Corporate just decided that this is a problem, and declared that
employees who average less than 12 days a month in the office
(vacations, holidays, and corporate travel days all count as 'not
in office'), can't have a permanent full time office or cubicle.
I'm pretty annoyed by this, though the rest of my team decided that
rather then 'hotdesk' cubes a couple days a week with another group,
we'd all go full time remote. I *could* come in and use one of the 'hotel'
cubes, or make sure I'm above the 12 day threshold, but I'd be here without
my group, by myself, and that does not appeal.
Working 100% remote has some advantages; you don't spend much time or money
commuting, you can live further away, and have the option to run brief errands
at home. We're going to use Skype video to interact within the group.
But you miss the face to face social interaction, not just with your own team,
but also with other people in the company, the contacts which will help your
career. It's not like you can do lunch together anymore, and to senior
mangement you're a never seen, never heard name on a list.
I'm not happy about this, despite saving about 6 hour's driving a week.
pt
Well,
I started in an office, then worked remotely for 5 years, then in an office,
then remotely again.
I was never more miserable than in that second office, once having tasted
freedom.
Social interaction is overrated.
And on the "city" thing -- I live in a bedroom community of a medium sized
city. So, I'm not saying everybody would live in the sticks, though that
should be possible..
--
------
columbiaclosings.com
What's not in Columbia anymore..
Social life _after_ work is a factor that could point different ways a different times - perhaps people in their 20s living it up in city night life, and then settling down in the suburbs. For the really old, easy access to a hospital is important.
David DeLaney
2019-07-08 07:08:13 UTC
Reply
Permalink
Post by Joe Bernstein
John D. MacDonald's Travis McGee books (though they're hardly
household names), or Poe (a household name, but is Dupin, which I
haven't read, really "American" ?). I see now that I should've
thought of Dashiell Hammett or Raymond Chandler, but I've read
neither, and am not sure <The Maltese Falcon>, let alone anything of
Chandler's, is really *that* famous.
Two words: Rex Stout.
Two more: Ellery Queen.
You ought to be able to find something you've heard of between them?

Dave, for young fantasy there's always Diane Duane
--
\/David DeLaney posting thru EarthLink - "It's not the pot that grows the flower
It's not the clock that slows the hour The definition's plain for anyone to see
Love is all it takes to make a family" - R&P. VISUALIZE HAPPYNET VRbeable<BLINK>
my gatekeeper archives are no longer accessible :( / I WUV you in all CAPS! --K.
Ted Nolan <tednolan>
2019-07-08 16:32:34 UTC
Reply
Permalink
Post by David DeLaney
Post by Joe Bernstein
John D. MacDonald's Travis McGee books (though they're hardly
household names), or Poe (a household name, but is Dupin, which I
haven't read, really "American" ?). I see now that I should've
thought of Dashiell Hammett or Raymond Chandler, but I've read
neither, and am not sure <The Maltese Falcon>, let alone anything of
Chandler's, is really *that* famous.
Two words: Rex Stout.
Two more: Ellery Queen.
You ought to be able to find something you've heard of between them?
The early Queens are fair-play logic problems if that is a plus or minus..

I don't think the Stout I read was strictly solvable, though I might be
wrong.
--
------
columbiaclosings.com
What's not in Columbia anymore..
Joe Bernstein
2019-07-08 17:36:11 UTC
Reply
Permalink
Post by David DeLaney
Post by Joe Bernstein
John D. MacDonald's Travis McGee books (though they're hardly
household names), or Poe (a household name, but is Dupin, which I
haven't read, really "American" ?). I see now that I should've
thought of Dashiell Hammett or Raymond Chandler, but I've read
neither, and am not sure <The Maltese Falcon>, let alone anything of
Chandler's, is really *that* famous.
Two words: Rex Stout.
Two more: Ellery Queen.
You ought to be able to find something you've heard of between them?
Um, actually? I'd heard of both, so I grant you that, and I'm pretty
sure Ellery Queen actually is a household name. But none of their
titles looked all that famous to me (though Stout's had a way with
words, some of which have probably been duplicated).

This is a kind of more extreme case of what happened with Bradbury
(and would happen in a British or English version with Christie).

Nero Wolfe may be famous enough to compare to Sherlock Holmes,
speaking of British mysteries, but I'm pretty sure <The Hound of the
Baskervilles>, in particular, is famous enough to go on with, and I'm
not sure that's true of any of the Wolfe titles.
Post by David DeLaney
Dave, for young fantasy there's always Diane Duane
I'm quite certain Oz is more famous than the Young Wizards'verse.
Make that much more.

It dawned on me belatedly that a romance that says a lot about
America, however little I like much of that, and that is titanically
famous, is <Gone with the Wind>. It isn't exactly a genre romance, I
admit, but neither is <The Wonderful Wizard> really a genre fantasy.

(Oh, and that's the other issue: how really American are Ellery
Queen and Nero Wolfe? Perry Mason might be a better bet, there,
though probably a bit less famous than Wolfe and much less than
Queen. But I'm not sure I've actually read any of the three, even
one book, so I should probably stop talking here.)

Joe Bernstein
--
Joe Bernstein <***@gmail.com>
Joe Pfeiffer
2019-07-08 17:48:38 UTC
Reply
Permalink
Post by Joe Bernstein
Post by David DeLaney
Post by Joe Bernstein
John D. MacDonald's Travis McGee books (though they're hardly
household names), or Poe (a household name, but is Dupin, which I
haven't read, really "American" ?). I see now that I should've
thought of Dashiell Hammett or Raymond Chandler, but I've read
neither, and am not sure <The Maltese Falcon>, let alone anything of
Chandler's, is really *that* famous.
Two words: Rex Stout.
Two more: Ellery Queen.
You ought to be able to find something you've heard of between them?
Um, actually? I'd heard of both, so I grant you that, and I'm pretty
sure Ellery Queen actually is a household name. But none of their
titles looked all that famous to me (though Stout's had a way with
words, some of which have probably been duplicated).
This is a kind of more extreme case of what happened with Bradbury
(and would happen in a British or English version with Christie).
Nero Wolfe may be famous enough to compare to Sherlock Holmes,
speaking of British mysteries, but I'm pretty sure <The Hound of the
Baskervilles>, in particular, is famous enough to go on with, and I'm
not sure that's true of any of the Wolfe titles.
Post by David DeLaney
Dave, for young fantasy there's always Diane Duane
I'm quite certain Oz is more famous than the Young Wizards'verse.
Make that much more.
It dawned on me belatedly that a romance that says a lot about
America, however little I like much of that, and that is titanically
famous, is <Gone with the Wind>. It isn't exactly a genre romance, I
admit, but neither is <The Wonderful Wizard> really a genre fantasy.
(Oh, and that's the other issue: how really American are Ellery
Queen and Nero Wolfe? Perry Mason might be a better bet, there,
though probably a bit less famous than Wolfe and much less than
Queen. But I'm not sure I've actually read any of the three, even
one book, so I should probably stop talking here.)
I'm not quite sure what you mean by "really American". Queen's
mysteries take place in Manhattan (with some branching out into nearby
areas, and a *very* noteable bunch in the town of Wrightsville, in New
England. His father is an Inspector in the NYPD, and there's lots of
interaction with very New York cops. The language and slang are all
American.

The early Queens, and the Wrightsville stories, are some of my absolute
favorite books. In general I'd say the authors lost their touch in the
later books, except somehow the Wrightsville stories, though very unlike
the early Queen stories, are top notch.

They also wrote a bunch of books featuring other detectives. With the
exception of the Drury Lane books (featuring a deaf former actor named,
you guessed it, Drury Lane), none of these are worth anything. The
Drury Lane books are sort of OK, but nothing near as good as the Ellery
Queen books.
Joe Pfeiffer
2019-07-08 17:55:33 UTC
Reply
Permalink
Following up my own post... went back and looked up Queen, and the
books featuring non-Queen detectives (except Drury Lane) were ghost
written. *Really* should have known...
Robert Carnegie
2019-07-08 18:50:14 UTC
Reply
Permalink
Post by Joe Bernstein
Post by David DeLaney
Post by Joe Bernstein
John D. MacDonald's Travis McGee books (though they're hardly
household names), or Poe (a household name, but is Dupin, which I
haven't read, really "American" ?). I see now that I should've
thought of Dashiell Hammett or Raymond Chandler, but I've read
neither, and am not sure <The Maltese Falcon>, let alone anything of
Chandler's, is really *that* famous.
Two words: Rex Stout.
Two more: Ellery Queen.
You ought to be able to find something you've heard of between them?
Um, actually? I'd heard of both, so I grant you that, and I'm pretty
sure Ellery Queen actually is a household name. But none of their
titles looked all that famous to me (though Stout's had a way with
words, some of which have probably been duplicated).
This is a kind of more extreme case of what happened with Bradbury
(and would happen in a British or English version with Christie).
Nero Wolfe may be famous enough to compare to Sherlock Holmes,
speaking of British mysteries, but I'm pretty sure <The Hound of the
Baskervilles>, in particular, is famous enough to go on with, and I'm
not sure that's true of any of the Wolfe titles.
Post by David DeLaney
Dave, for young fantasy there's always Diane Duane
I'm quite certain Oz is more famous than the Young Wizards'verse.
Make that much more.
It dawned on me belatedly that a romance that says a lot about
America, however little I like much of that, and that is titanically
famous, is <Gone with the Wind>. It isn't exactly a genre romance, I
admit, but neither is <The Wonderful Wizard> really a genre fantasy.
(Oh, and that's the other issue: how really American are Ellery
Queen and Nero Wolfe? Perry Mason might be a better bet, there,
though probably a bit less famous than Wolfe and much less than
Queen. But I'm not sure I've actually read any of the three, even
one book, so I should probably stop talking here.)
Joe Bernstein
I checked back why you specified famous: so that a large
proportion of Americans have read it too.

I think that leaves school assigned texts and
the Book of Mormon.

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