Strangely enough I found it more difficult to come up with examples of ‘Greed’ or ‘Avarice’ in literature than in film this month but once I thought about different genres then the examples came flooding in and inevitably I had to edit some out! The first novel I am going to recommend is part of the 2015 Theakston’s Old Peculiar Crime Writing Festival’s Big Read campaign see: https://harrogateinternationalfestivals.com/crime/. I was lucky enough to meet with crime writer David Mark to discuss this book as part of the festival’s programme.
Blood Shot by Sara Paretsky
Blood Shot: V.I. Warshawski 5 is the fifth book in Sara Paretsky’s crime series following the exploits of private investigator Victoria Iphegenia (V.I) Warshawski who is lured back to her old South Chicago neighbourhood to work for a neighbour she would rather forget about. Neighbour Caroline Dijak has asked her to find her father for her. As she becomes more involved in the complicated investigation and finds that her enquiries are thwarted at every turn she becomes more determined to find out exactly why she is being diverted from her case and of course risks everything to discover the truth. V.I. herself is not greedy in the financial sense rather in this book and in a large portion of her other novels, she is always fighting against corporate greed, huge corporations and the CEO’s in charge of them. In Blood Shot this greed concerns a chemical company and also questions the morality of the private insurance industry. In other books, she is critical of the US medical system, the US prison service and how this profits off the misery of those less fortunate and the greed of technology companies. Blood Shot is a good book to start with if you have not read any of the others my favourites in the series are Bitter Medicine, Hard Time and Breakdown. A new V.I book is out in July, I have already placed my order and can’t wait to read it!
Jamaica Inn by Daphne Du Maurier
A strange choice you may think, but bear with me! Jamaica Inn (VMC) by Daphne Du Maurier covers many themes but through the character of the threatening Joss Merlyn, we see how greed infests his everyday life and actions and causes him to commit terrible crimes. Jamaica Inn has been mostly notorious in the popular imagination for the mumbled BBC adaptation which is a shame because it is a very good tale at its heart and could also be said to be a Gothic novel. The descriptions of Bodmin Moor in Cornwall are very evocative and the beach scenes at night are also powerfully written. For me, out of all the Du Maurier books that I have read I also feel that the heroine Mary Yellen is the strongest female, certainly stronger than Mrs De Winter in Rebecca as she fights back and is certain of her own way and morality. Jamaica Inn is one of my favourite Du Maurier books and worth a read.
A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
Is there a more greedy figure in literature than Ebenezer Scrooge?
In A Christmas Carol The Graphic Novel: Original Text (British English)? Scrooge is so wealthy yet covets all his wealth for himself, is not charitable to friends, family or those in need and as a consequence is very lonely. Of course this story is a parable of redemption in that he gets a chance to see what a difference his life would make if he does not change through the visits from the ghosts of past, present and future. My favourite bit in the book though is the thoroughly Gothic visit by the ghost of Jacob Marley, (Scrooge’s old business partner) who is suffering in Hell (we presume), covered in rattling chains and weights as a punishment for his greed and meanness in life towards others. Jacob Marley serves as a vivid reminder of Scrooge’s fate should he not change his ways. There are of course many versions of this story as well as film adaptations but for something a bit different then why not try the Classical Comics version? I love these and wish that they were around when I was at school.
So, quite a lean towards the dark and Gothic this month, for the theme of ‘Greed.’ I wish next month could be lighter but I doubt it as our theme will be Wrath/Anger!! If you have any different suggestions then get in touch at the usual places.