Article of the Day: Why read crime fiction?

There is an opinion/essay in Newsweek (apparently still striving for that affluent educated niche that doesn’t require aesthetically pleasing magazine design) this week about Americans’ fascination with crime and crime fiction.  Walter Mosley is responsible for what I think is a rather bland, vague argument that, amidst our guilt and powerlessness and media overload, we require crime fiction to help us find heroes.  I thought the piece meandered a lot, but here’s what appears to be its nugget:

But even as we take in the information shoveled out at a stupendous rate from dozens of different sources, we begin to worry. Who owns the news? How do bloggers pay their rent? Why, in spite of what I’m being told, is the economy, and the world in general, getting worse?

This dissatisfaction brings us to fictional accounts. Crime shows, mysteries, and films speak to the bystander in a dangerous world. These forms of entertainment corroborate our feelings of distrust and allow us to think about how we might fit into a world that wouldn’t even be aware of us getting crushed under its collective weight.

Uhhh, really?  The detective/crime novels that I read do no such thing for me; they provide entertainment that enthralls, scares, and unsettles.  Mosley concludes ostentatiously, “We are fascinated with stories of crime, real or imagined, because we need them to cleanse the modern world from our souls.”

Normally, when I post an Article of the Day, it’s because I think it’s an intriguing read.  This time, it’s to disagree, especially since I so recently wrote about the crime fiction that I’ve been reading.  Maybe you think that Mosley makes a more cogent argument.  If you unearth it, let me know.


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