Monday, January 04, 2016

Theft :: Artistic Appropriation

One of the many magazines I like to read in its physical paper format is Tin House. Such a pleasure reading the poems and short essays in the chosen theme of the quarterly issues.

Caught up with its September release- Issue #65 'Theft'. It's an enjoyable holiday read. Thought I would read lots in Bali, but no. Had only time for short stories before being dragged out somewhere.

Tin House sent out a call for short essays about "memorable thefts" and had the call "answered by the doyen of crime writers, Mary Higgins Clark, alongside Alissa Nutting, George Singleton, and Laura Lippman." The essays, poems and short stories were very good. It does make one stop to think about issues of copyrights these days. "Mary Higgins Clark reminds us that, in Shakespeare's words, “The robbed that smiles steals something from the thief.” [Othello, Act 1 Scene 3]" True that, under certain circumstances.

There're the poems and the slightly serious essays on issues of copyrights. Ginger Strand's thoughts on fair use in 'Vonnegut on the Road'. She's interested in detailing the stories of 'the rover boys' on their road trip in a borrowed Packard on Route 36 from Indianapolis to Missouri and Colorado. in the summer of 1939. She read the hand-annotated manuscript "The Rover Boys" which is a typescript of Vonnegut's letters home during the journey, ordered and bound in a blue booklet. The 'rover boys' were three sixteen-year-olds- Bud Gillespie, George Jeffrey and Kurt Vonnegut Jr (1922-2007). It also touches on how Kurt Vonnegut Jr had been earlier accused of stealing and how he righted that wrong two years later on this road trip. However, because of the ambiguity of fair use and copyright laws, no one is able to publish any writing about those stories even years after it, and after 'the rover boys' have passed on.

"All of these stories are quite good. But when it comes down to it, it may be best that I don't. You should hear them first from Kurt Vonnegut. It would be a shame if you had to wait until 2077 to do so; that seems excessive. But with any luck, the Farber Literary Agency will put "The Rover Boys" into print soon, and you can have as much fun reading it as I did. I'm sorry not to offer you more than that, but I have tried not to be a schmuck.

There's an almost funny story (it ends well) 'Run Your Shit' by Victor LaValle, who presumably recalled his one-time attempt to run away from home at thirteen by pretending to be attending a Mötley Crüe gig at Madison Square Garden. That was 1985. Feeling lost wandering through the streets of Times Square, he somehow got robbed off his book bag, decided that living on the streets wasn't his thing, and returned home within the hour.

Eventually, I tried to imagine my life in New York City. Where was I going to sleep? How was I going to make any money? Soon a more pressing question arose: Where was I going to piss? This was the kind of thing they never addressed in the Uncanny X-Men. Where did mutants pee? Maybe on of their special powers was never struggling to find a bathroom in New York City.

Mary Higgins Clark loves her jewelry. You see that in her stories. In this contribution of 'The Jewel Heist', she wrote a little story about stolen jewelry and how one particularly sentimental piece was dropped in her garden by the robbers, and the landscaper later found a few months later. It was a "three-tiered dinner ring" of diamonds given to her by her mother-in-law, of which she loved, and a piece her husband thought "vulgar". The point of the story is really, a formidable new safe isn't really as safe as,
"good jewelry snuggling under old clothes in an even more crowded attic. Lots of luck finding it."

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