Will the Real Nancy Drew Stand Up?

This is not your mother's Nancy Drew.

on Solano recently hosted an evening of sleuthing into the life of the real Nancy Drew. (aka Joe Christiano) put on another wonderful, free literary theatrical event there that was definitely unique. I didn't really understand what it was going to be before I went, but I knew it would be worthwhile literary entertainment. The place was packed, so apparently, others had high expectations as well.

"None too Keene: Nancy Drew Noir" turned out to be a combination of a reading and analysis with musical accompaniment and humor thrown in. Now you understand perfectly, right?

Providing an appropriate soundtrack was Richard Leiter on keyboard. Berkeley High sophomore Lydia Odette Warren played the part of our young heroine and read aloud the opening and closing chapters of a brilliant reworking of the very first Nancy Drew book ever published, Secret of the Old Clock. Her readings were interspersed with commentary from the czar of noir, Eddie Muller, who informed us that the character of Nancy was based on real-life Nan who wrote her memoirs recounting her own sleuthing years. But this Nancy Drew was no perky teen but a hard-edged, scotch-drinking, hug-averse young woman who addressed her father by his last name.

Carolyn Keene was the pseudonym that a succession of editors used when rewriting the hard-boiled detective stories to "girlify" them.

Many theories were offered and no doubt, conclusions were made, but at the end of the evening I was sure of this: if Joe Christiano keeps inventing new ways to entertain us with literature, the book is far from dead.

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Paul O'Curry April 02, 2012 at 06:47 PM
On a radio show ... TTBOOK.... I heard Walter Mosley talk about influences on young readers and writers. He believes that Nancy Drew was more influential that Dickens or Shakespeare.


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