Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The Morning Reading: Rutten on Connelly

Tim Rutten is all over the new Michael Connelly novel, The Scarecrow, in this morning's Los Angeles Times.


The novels and short stories we conveniently pigeonhole as "genre fiction" often are the tripwires of our literature's social consciousness...

It's unsurprising, therefore, that the first fictional work to take the newspaper industry's agonizing decline as its backdrop is a mystery, nor that its author, Michael Connelly, is a onetime crime reporter who spent the last years of his print career at the Los Angeles Times.

Rutten closes with a meditation on the current state of the press and California, using the grand lobby of the LA Times building as his symbolic setting. I can't quote it in its entirety, but here's a hint:
...The lobby, by the way, is a historic monument, and Connelly might also have mentioned its striking Art Deco murals and curiously androgynous brass reliefs dedicated to the races of man, the signs of the zodiac and the arts and sciences.

There are busts of dead Chandlers arrayed around the rotunda, like the forgotten gods of a fading tribe. Presidents and kings once passed them as they entered and left the building; so did captains of every imaginable industry, Nobel Prize winners and great artists of every genre in which we express ourselves.

Years ago, I watched César Chávez pause, survey all that ornate grandeur, shake his head and chuckle, as I walked him to the door after lunch in one of the grand upstairs dining rooms in which the paper's editors used to host daily important guests. I once saw the disgraced Richard Nixon, by then long retired, stop there to work a visibly bemused class of visiting second-graders as if they'd be voting in his next election. They hadn't a clue who he was, and their teacher and chaperons looked stunned and vaguely alarmed.

Like all the others, Chávez and Nixon and the second-graders had passed beneath the entrance doors' marble lintel with its famous inscription: "This building stands as a symbol of faith in California."

To read the piece in its entirety, click here.

Tustin's Book Carnival usually hosts Connelly on his book tours but they don't list him on their most recent calendar. A look at Connelly's website reveals that he'll be coming to the county on November 21 to appear at the Men of Mystery 10th Anniversary Celebration.

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