An American Tragedy, 100 years later

Today is the 100th anniversay of poor Grace Brown’s murder, which Theodore “ought to write nicer” Dreiser turned into one of his overstuffed books. Considerably cut down from the Times, for copyright reasons:

My parents briefly lived near there in the late 1940s and said the locals still talked of nothing else. (My mother was brave–or foolhardy–enough to let my father row her around Big Moose Lake). Interesting, how some murders “catch on”–odd that I didn’t read anything about the recent centenary of the Stanford White murder.

And without bothering to Google, I feel certain that this event was the basis for the movie A Place In The Sun?

Yep, that’s a classic murder: sex, betrayal, murder, cover-up. Or in other words, guy wants to get rid of inconvenient old girlfriend so he can get on with new ones. This type of murder always fascinates the public and keeps 'em talking for a long time.

And yet no one remembers poor Dot King (the attached link, by the way, is chockful of factual errors).

As a sidelight, the best thing I know about Dreiser’s novel, An American Tragedy, is the parody of it by Robert Benchley.

Dang it, Eve, get out of my head! I just finished reading A Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly.

"Sixteen-year-old Mattie Gokey has big dreams but little hope of seeing them come true. Desperate for money, she takes a job at the Glenmore, where hotel guest Grace Brown asks her to burn a bundle of secret letters…"

I just found my copy of A Benchley Roundup, Dell books. For those who are unfamilliear with any of Dreiser’s writing, here is Benchley’s exaggerated (somewhat) version of it.

But I’ll bet Dreiser knew how to spell “unfamiliar.”