Concettina Died and Other Stories of the East Side

Exquisite Corpse, posted October 2, 2006 at 09:51 PM

My business partner, Mark Nelson, has just published a book: Exquisite Corpse: Surrealism and The Black Dahlia Murder. He and his co-author Sarah Hudson Bayliss have put together a rather obsessive visual study of how Surrealist art and artists may have influenced this infamous (and unsolved) crime, and how the crime itself may then be reflected back in art. Their research generally supports the idea that a physician named George Hodel committed the murder, though they never quite make this claim. Instead, they present visual evidence of influence and a "web of connections" among the artsy Los Angelinos of the time.

It's a fascinating read, on a subject I never thought I'd care much about. True crime doesn't really interest me, and frankly Surrealism doesn't rank all that high among my favorite schools of art. But the book walks such a fine line between art history and nonfiction noir, and so frankly describes how art can interact with real world events, that I found myself anxiously awaiting to see what would happen in each subsequent chapter. I was also taken in by the vivid evocation of mid-20th century Los Angeles. The book captures a whole milieu, hitting on period, character, cultural and economic divisions, and the development of a major American city.

I heard many of Mark's ideas from the time of his first glimmer of an angle on this crime-art connection through the extended time of researching and writing, and I have to say the actual book far exceeded my expectations. I knew it was a good enough idea for him to develop and actually write, and then it was proved to me that it was an effort worthy of refinement when a major house (Bulfinch) came on as publisher, but until I read it, I remained skeptical about my own interest in it. All for naught, it turns out. The book is terrific. Well done, Mark and Sarah.

Look them up over at their site. And yeah, buy the book here....

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