For decades Malcolm buttered his bread by teaching literature. One exercise might be the distribution of snippets for critiquing: genre, content, style, and a stab at the author and dating.
Here’s one that nicely would fit the task:
North Philly, May 4, XXXX. Officer Sean Devlin, Narcotics Strike Force, was working the morning shift. Undercover surveillance. The neighborhood? Tough as a threedollar steak. Devlin knew. Five years on the beat, nine months with the Strike Force. He’d made fifteen, twenty drug busts in the neighborhood.
Devlin spotted him: a lone man on the corner. Another approached. Quick exchange of words. Cash handed over; small objects handed back. Each man then quickly on his own way. Devlin knew the guy wasn’t buying bus tokens. He radioed a description and Officer Stein picked up thebuyer. Sure enough: three bags of crack in the guy’s pocket. Head downtown and book him. Just another day at the office.
Easy! Typical hard-boiled 1920s/1930s noir, straight out of Black Mask magazine. Hmmm: locale East Coast, but that apart, only point at issue is whether to opt for Hammett or Chandler …
Then, insert the sickener: that “XXXX” reads “2001″ in the original. OK: a parody of the above, but quite a convincing one. So, trick question: next?
What is interesting is the source and the author:
ROBERTS, C. J., dissenting
SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES
PENNSYLVANIA v. NATHAN DUNLAP
Indeed. The Chief Justice of the United States has a bit of personal fun in offering a lone-voice dissent against the Bench.
And if Malcolm had not been reading Linda Greenhouse’s adulatory piece on Justice Sotomayor he would have missed it.
Good show all round.