Sunday, September 8, 2013
The Sons of Tammany, by Mike Carey
Ever look at something simple and brilliant, like a Post-It Note, or White-Out, and say "why didn't I think of that?" Well, I have just had two of those Post-It moments.
There have been approximately seven gazillion attempts to rewrite Sherlock Holmes or create new stories about him but as far as I know Kane and Prepolec have come up with a brand new idea: invite the creation of new stories about the first literary sleuth, Edgar Allan Poe's C. Auguste Dupin. Brilliant idea! After all, Poe only wrote three. Plenty of room for more.
Honestly I don't know how good the book turned out, because I have only finished the first story. But that one is a doozy of a pastiche.
Let's take a moment to define pastiche, shall we? Some dictionaries say it means the same thing as parody. They're wrong. Some people use it to mean a new story about existing characters in imitation of the original; i.e. seven gazillion new Sherlock Holmes stories. I think there is another name for those: "fan fiction."
I reserve the word pastiche for stories that rethink the original and take a new take on it. See the British series Sherlock, for example.
It's possible that the rest of the stories in the book are fan fiction; I don't know. But Mike Carey has written a clever pastiche. "The Sons of Tammany" takes place in 1870 when an elderly Dupin visits New York and is shown around by a young cartoonist, the soon-to-be-famous Thomas Nast. As the title implies, they get involved with the corrupt gang at Tammany Hall -- and also with one of the greatest construction jobs of the ninetheenth century, the building of the Brooklyn Bridge.
Clever idea, and amusing writing.
Dupin had gotten the hang of summoning cabs now, and that was a terrible power to put in a Frenchman's hands.