Murder on the Yellow Brick Road) and it's got me thinking about authenticity.
This book is set in January 1942; America has entered the Second World War, and Hollywood-based private detective Toby Peters has two cases. First, someone's been threatening Bela Lugosi (whose career is really in the doldrums). Second, a theatrical agent has been shot and writer William Faulkner has been accused of the murder. Throw in a group of vampire wannabes and a beautiful widow in the best noir style and things get murky fast.
The book is obviously fiction. In his afterword, Stuart Kaminsky states, "Toby Peters does not live in the real America of the 1940s… Toby lives in the romantic/tragic/comic world of historical nostalgia. He lives in a world not with the real Bette Davis, Eleanor Roosevelt, Joe Louis, Mae West or Bela Lugosi, but with the versions of these people I would like to remember." I think that's what draws me to the Toby Peters books, that nostalgia. I get the same warm, golden feeling I get from Who Framed Roger Rabbit. I really enjoyed this book, with its nods to Dracula, Psycho and other classic pre-slasher horror films.
This makes me wonder why I'm already slightly nervous about the forthcoming film of The Great Gatsby. My gut reaction is: it won't be authentic. But what is? And I've already proved to myself that authenticity isn't the thing I'm drawn to, after all, I love steampunk and dieselpunk – the very opposite of authenticity – and in my real life I live a life (thankfully) very different from the women of the past. What 'authenticity' am I looking for? What authenticity is anyone into vintage looking for? I don't think any of us are about to ditch the washing machine for a tub and mangle, even in the most historically-accurate of homes. I guess I need to think hard before using 'inauthentic' as my sole reason for not liking something.
That said, I'm still never going to approve of people slapping the label 'vintage' on things that didn't exist pre-1960, whether that's tat made from old teacups or vandalised books, or clothes with nothing in common, from cloth to cut, with historic styles, just a ditsy floral fabric and a peter pan collar. I may have conceded things don't have to be authentic, but you can still keep the twee away from me!