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ALIAS S.S. VAN DINE. THE MAN WHO CREATED PHILO VANCE.

Loughery, John.

ISBN 10: 0684193582 / ISBN 13: 9780684193588
Published by SCRIBNERS., NY, 1992
Condition: Fine Hardcover
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Bibliographic Details

Title: ALIAS S.S. VAN DINE. THE MAN WHO CREATED ...

Publisher: SCRIBNERS., NY

Publication Date: 1992

Binding: Cloth

Book Condition:Fine

Dust Jacket Condition: Dust Jacket Included

Edition: First Edition.

About this title

Synopsis:

Recounts the rise and fall of Willard Huntington Wright, alias S. S. Van Dine--the virtual creator of the modern detective novel whose dramatic swing from success to failure epitomized the Jazz Age in which he lived.

From Kirkus Reviews:

Intriguing if ultimately somewhat disappointing: A full biography (the first, apparently) of nasty, elegant, tortured Willard Huntington Wright (1887-1939)--magazine editor, art critic, and, as ``S.S. Van Dine,'' the author of the phenomenally successful, now nearly forgotten Philo Vance mysteries. Loughery, art critic of The Hudson Review, begins, effectively, with Wright's final, unhappy days: the Philo Vance bubble already burst, his lavish lifestyle in disarray. Next, bewilderingly, the narrative flashes back not to Wright's beginnings but to his brief stint (1913-14) as editor of The Smart Set--where his daring taste soon got him into trouble. Only then does Loughery make a proper start: Virginia childhood with indulgent, hotel-owning parents and an equally precocious younger brother (artist Stanton); spotty studies at Harvard and impetuous, unfortunate marriage at 19; acerbic book-review work in California, with Mencken as model. After The Smart Set debacle came years of ill-rewarded labor as an eloquent champion of modern art, particularly the ``synchronism'' of brother Stanton Macdonald- Wright. A failure in N.Y.C, Wright became a 1920's scrounger in Hollywood, writing for movie-mags--while wrestling with drug addiction and domestic turmoil. (He was a misogynistic womanizer as well as a racist.) Finally, in 1924, this bitter aesthete decided to sell out with a vengeance and came up with Philo Vance, a ``fantasy projection'' of himself: art connoisseur, aristocrat, amateur detective--and the first American sleuth to rival the sophistication and popularity of the British mystery greats. However, by 1933, the Van Dine novels had become ``a dreary, desperate, mortifying labor for cash.'' Despite the clumsy start, an unlikable subject, and insufficient psychological depth: curious, literate life-history, with sporadic illumination of American culture (pop and otherwise) in the 1910-40 period. (Eight-page photo insert--not seen.) -- Copyright ©1992, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

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