Larson’s Devilish Brilliance

In Erik Larson’s The Devil in the White City the reader not only follows the madness behind America’s first serial killer. But also behind the construction of the worlds fair in Chicago in 1893 helped in bed serial killer H.H. Holmes. New York Times writer Janet Maslin see’s the book as “a book as lively as its title.” She would also say the Larson avoids ” turning [the book] into a random compendium” a tough task when dealing with subject matter so closely related. Erik Larson does this however seamlessly. Larson is a master of detail and creates a book full of his brilliance.

The question raised however how does Larson avoid combining these two events and being random? The answer is not so simple. One of the largest reasons is Larson’s attention to detail and his preparation to the characters(people) and events around them. Larson’s knowledge is obvious and gives the book depth. He gives this information as if he was there or as if he knew who these people where. his extensive research and overwhelming knowledge on the subject gives the reader the needed security to not only believe, but continue to read.

But one knowledge one the material can only take them so far. One can be knowledgeable on a certain subject matter, but fail to present it well. The presentation of the material is equally as important as the material itself. Otherwise the reader is given a jumbled mess, not being able to fully take in these people and their stories. As stated earlier however Larson is a master of detail. He presents the material in a logical and organized manner. Separating the events by chapters, devoting Holmes his own chapters  and likewise with Burnham. By doing this he prevents confusion and randomness, its brilliant. His chapter are concise, he makes every word count. This all comes back to his extensive research and knowledge. Being able to fill chapters full of information. This is why Larson is a master of not only detail, but preparation.

In short I agree with Janet Maslin and find her analysis spot on about The Devil in the White City. Larson is a master of detail and  takes the time to make sure the preparation of this detail is done right. The devil may be in the details but it is also how you present said details.







Larson, Erik. The Devil in the White City. Vintage, 2004

Maslin, Janet.”Add a serial murderer to 1893 Chicago’s opulent overkill.” review of The Devil in the White City., by Erik Larson, The New York Times, 10 Feb.03

Our Group Thoughts on casting

Although we may have had diferent opinions on who we should cast in our adaptation of The Devil in theWhite City. We were able to come to a final consensus. Working frantically to find the right quotes and scanning the book to make each phrase count was difficult. However my group and I were able to complete the task and I do say we have quite a well casted film. Here are our thoughts on the casting of Leonardo DiCaprio and our picks for the rest of the cast. *Leonardo DiCaprio – Good Choice. For H. H. Homes, based on previous movies he has been

in his ability to embody the character that he is playing.

“He walked with confidence and dressed well, conjuring an impression of wealth and

achievement…He had dark hair and striking blue eyes… ‘They are blue. Great murderers, like

great men in other walks of activity, have blue eyes’”(35).

*Jude Law – Daniel Hudson Burnham

“Burnham was said to be the business genius of his firm, Root the artist”(53).

Explanation: We choose actors around the same age because this gives the chemistry

Burnham and Root need.

*Tom Hardy – John Root

“‘His conversational powers were extraordinary,’ a friend said. ‘ There seemed to be no subject

which he had not investigated and in which he was not profoundly learned.’ He had a sly sense

of humor” (27).

*Finn Wittrock – George Ferris

“At one table sat a thirty-three-years-old engineer from Pittsburgh who ran a steel-inspection

company that had branch offices in New York and Chicago and that already possessed the

exposition contract to inspect the steel used in the fair’s buildings”(155).

“And if what happened to Eiffel happened to him, his fortune would be assured”(156).

*Robert Downey Jr – Benjamin Pitezel

“‘Pitezel was his tool,’ a district attorney said, ‘his creature’” (70).

*Donald Sutherland – Frederick Law Olmsted

“ Olmsted had a reputation for brilliance and tireless devotion to his work” (53).

Basically as a group we had similar ideas of who we would want to see in these roles. Actors who had experience in roles such as these. It all came down to figuring out who fitted best where. As the saying goes, the devil is in the details and our details are there.

The Scorsese Reunion.

In late 2015 news broke that the book The Devil and The White City written by Eric Larson will adapted into a film set to be directed by Martin Scorsese. The lead in this film will be long time Scorsese alumni Leonardo DiCaprio set as one of the leads H. H. Holmes. I find this casting intriguing since Dicaprio helped buy the rights of the book the book to create a film. With this information he is obviously has an interest in the book and character. Not to mention that DiCaprio is an academy award winning actor and has proven himself as an actor across many different genres and settings. DiCaprio is a method actor who in bodies the characters that he is portraying, who invest in characters and films. This is incredible casting. Know I am slated to cast Daniel Burnham. For Burnham one name popped in my mind and that name was Tom Hardy. Like DiCaprio Hardy is also a method actor in lives as his characters. Daniel Burnham by all accounts was a smart, ambitious and was set to tackle one of the most difficult task ever asked by one man. Losing and gaining weight to look his parts Hardy is a shape shifting actor who transforms his body to become his parts. For the final casting choice I would slate Adam Driver as John Root. I believe that this young and talented actor could bring the brilliance of Root to the big screen. Having this cast would be accustom to the way Scorsese creates his films and tells a story. This I think will bring that added edge to this adaptation that this film needs.

Just a Game of Spades. A Question of Freedom is a memoir written by acclaimed author Dwayne Betts. In this memoir we are taken through the journey that Mr. Betts had to endure through his stint in jail. For this particular paper however we are looking at a direct quote from Betts in the memoir. In this quote he compares a game of spades to his life, that everyone there is playing a game of spades for their life. The only exception is in this game of spades Betts says that the deck has been stacked by his opponents. My main take away from this quote is sometimes that you just have to play the hand you were given continue to play. This quote may be a very short quote, but it is very deep and sheds light on how Betts viewed his situation. Using a game he played many times as way of rationalizing his situation and make it seem as though it’s just a game and he’s just got to keep playing. Spades being a card game most times your chances of winning are based on the cards that you are given. However in this instance Betts is saying that the people he is playing against have stacked the deck or cheated to make sure he can not win. Betts like an successful person plays through and by many people standards he wins the game of spades. Betts goes from being a prison inmate, to published author. It leads many to wonder how he could do this. He simply fights through the stacked deck and plays the hand the he was dealt. This memoir has many instances where it just seems like a game is being played for these people’s lives. Betts for example is asked is the reason he committed his crime because his lack of a father and Betts answers no that it had nothing to do with his lack of a father. That his crime was based on a bad decision. This is what losing is could, he lost that game of spades and is sentenced to serve in prison. If as Betts says life is like a game of spades, in the last sentence that would Betts losing that particularly game. In the game of spades like life if you make the wrong the decisions you can lose and depending on what is at stake in that game the punishments can be more severe. In the same vein of the last sentence, there are times were you can win the game of spades and reap the rewards of that game. Betts is given a crummy with his, no dad, poor decisions, eventually in prison, but he is able to make the most out what he had. He continued to read and further his education while in prison. He used the loses in previous games of spades to help him win the next ones (speaking in the terms of life). He just kept playing the game and playing the hand that he was dealt. Betts in his memoir has written a great story of how one can change everything around and use the poor decisions in life to make good ones in the future. Although I personally have never played a game of spades, I do however love the metaphor. You can’t always control the hand that you are dealt and sometimes it may be your opponents who set the deck. You just have to continue to play the game and play the hand you were dealt.

The Disappointment of the world. Wonder of the world is a play written by David Lindsay- Abaire and is also farce following wacky characters in wacky situations. However in being wacky it’s wackiness takes many readers out of the text. Ben Brantley points out “too often… the play’s wackiness feels imposed rather than organic. Let’s start with the main problem of the play. Kip Harris and his fetish that is just too much. At first it blows the reader back with the weirdness. Then makes the reader feel less sympathetic for him. From what I took from the play we should want Kip Harris to get his wife Cass Harris back. As the reader we should want the Harris’s to reconcile, but we can’t blame Cass for leaving. Many would think that if only the fetish was something less odd or something more believable. However in a reoccurring trend in this play the wackiness and weirdness detracts from the story along with its characters. So often in the play there is this feeling of the author being strange to be strange. This creates a rift between the reader and the text. Therefore our main conflict and driving force behind this play starting stumbles out of the gate. Not only is our main conflict a wacky mess, so are the characters. Lindsay-Abaire writes these characters like children with an extensive vocabulary. For example Cass Harris sleeping with Captain Mike for no reason other then to check things off her list. Cass even brags to Lois saying “ You wouldn’t believe the things I checked off my list.” With the understanding that there are people in this world like this, however this is supposed to be our main character. Our protagonist in this play is an awful person with a child’s mentality. It’s like the supporting cast are the saving grace of this play either. Lois is a drunk, Karla is a murderous bully, Kipling has his doll fetish. The only decent characters are Captain Mike and Glenn. Glenn however is a pushover who knows that his wife murdered someone. So that leaves just Captain Mike who is shot and killed in the final act of the play. Shot and killed by Karla who also just so happens to be the same person who killed Captain Mike’s wife. Many of these characters wouldn’t be as bad if this wasn’t a farce and they were not forced into these wacky situations. Since they are and this is a farce they are forced to react wacky to the wacky situations causing them to react like children. As stated previously the wackiness isn’t organic and cause the play to not flow as it should. With that being said this may just be how only the text comes across, so one cannot deem this play a complete disaster. For all we know the play flows and all of the wackiness works. The text is not all bad there are some really funny moments. Many of these characters are very interesting, but that’s why this text is such a disappointment. The potential for a really funny play is there if some things were changed. Making you characters more likeable could be a start, along with giving them problems the reader and audience could relate to. Being weird to be weird doesn’t always work and as far the text goes it doesn’t here. This text is not a wonder of the world… more like a disappointment of the world. Work Cited Lindsay-Abaire David. Wonder of the world Dramatists play service 2003

The duality of my life.

As the pictures above indicate I am as many Americans are a big sports fan. Making trips each year to watch my favorite teams play. This is a huge part of my life watching and sometimes particpating in amatre sports. But many don’t know this, but I am also a huge nerd. Comics, movies, and video games are also huge interest of mine. For many you are either a sports fan or a fan of something nerdy. There is hardly any crossover into the other world. For me I enjoy being able to talk to anyone about anything. Wether it be the upcoming baseball season or about a certain comic. Some many of my friends find this weirdly fascinating about me. I however just see it as one interesting duality in my life.