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Essay

Crime Fiction Is Ready to Meet the Moment 

Saving the Hard-Boiled Detective From a Century’s Worth of Individualism

by Susanna Lee

In early July, the Guardian reported that sales of crime fiction have boomed during the pandemic, with readers “pouncing on stories of murder and revenge.” Crime fiction has dominated United States bestseller lists for years, and this summer is no exception.
  Why? Crime fiction has long flourished in periods of social and political friction, when we hunger for both justice and escape. But it feels especially intriguing now. Today, the genre once dominated by white male detectives features more main characters from all genders, ethnicities, races, classes, and abilities. Its stories pursue—and even deepen—skepticism of America’s ...

Essay

Looking for Jazz Uplift Under Lockdown

A Music Critic Considers the Power of Time-Honored Rituals When They Can’t Happen as They Should

by Larry Blumenfeld

Three days after the September 11 terrorist attacks I left my Brooklyn home, tracing backward the trail that thick billows of smoke had blown across the East River, to hear saxophonist Charles Lloyd at the Blue Note, in Greenwich Village. Two weeks earlier, I had interviewed Lloyd on a park bench in the shadow of the Twin Towers. He described his compositions as “tenderness sutras” and his performances as rituals offered in the face of complacency and conflict. Sitting in that club, those towers now gone, I listened closely. I heard the sutras, partook in the ritual. I felt less scared. Tenderness seemed at hand.
  In 2006, six months after the levee failures following Hurricane Katrina, I was at Donna’s ...

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