Sunday, August 16, 2015

The Forgotten Room (2015) novel

Original Novel Title: The Forgotten Room
Author: Lincoln Child
Publisher: Doubleday, 2015.

Lincoln Child, who also has collaborated on a series of well-received novels with Douglas Preston, sets his sixth solo novel in the rareified world of a Rhode Island think tank known as Lux. The forgotten room of the title references a hidden room within the huge mansion that houses Lux, the former home of the eccentric and wealthy Edward Delaveaux whose wife's ghost was said to still haunt a hallway of Lux.

The forgotten room contains a secret which one Lux researcher has already paid for with his life in a grisly suicide. Jeremy Logan, a Yale University professor who moonlights as an enigmalogist by solving unexplainable mysteries such as the Loch Ness monster or ghosts, is hired by Lux's director to investigate this out-of-character suicide. In doing so, Logan places his own life in jeopardy.

Early on during his investigation on behalf of Lux's director, he visits the institute's archives, located as archives usually are, in the mansion's basement. The think tank does not provide him with maps or signage nor did it occur to him to ask, so he has to find the archives on his own, where he eventually
"arrived at an open door with a sign that read ARCHIVES. Beyond the door, the walls and ceiling fell away, revealing a most impressive space bathed in bright yet pleasingly mellow light. Row after row of filing cabinets ran from front to back in achingly regular lines, but they were spaced far enough apart to forestall any sense of oppressiveness. At the far end, Logan could just make out another, smaller door, with what looked like a security station beside it. He stepped inside. ...

"Just inside the door, an elderly woman was seated at an official-looking table. A nameplate on one side of the desk read J. RAMANUJAN. She ran her eyes up and down Logan, lips pursing with an expression he could not decide was appraising or disapproving." (p. 78-79)

He's initially denied access because he has only a temporary ID card. He quickly overturns the archivist's decision with a letter the director provided him entitling him to unrestricted access. Not knowing exactly what he's looking for other than files pertaining to the 1930s, the archivist provides him with "blank document requisition forms." (p. 79)

After some discussion over the nature of his archival research and request to look for documents himself in the stacks, the archivist reluctantly agrees with the caveat that he "take no more than five folders from the stacks at a time. And please be careful when you refile them." (p. 80)

He spends a total of three hours at this research, "scribbling his observations into a small notebook with a gold pen," and realizes in the end that the files do not contain any records more recent than 2000 even though he was only interested in files from the 1930s. (p. 81)

The archivist informs him that more recent records are either with the scientists themselves or "'in archive two, beyond that door.' And she pointed toward the far end of the room." Archive two turns out to be off-limits to Logan even with his special letter of access. Seems he required "a level-A access or greater" according to the security guard who's armed with a nightstick and a can of Mace. "Then he [Logan] nodded, turned, and made his way back through the stacks and into the basement corridor beyond." (p. 81-82)

So the main archive stacks have no security other the guard who's at one end and who's purpose is guard against intruders to archive two. Filing cabinets for storage are so 1970s. Any archives worth its upkeep would more than likely not permit the use of pens to take notes. At least the part about the archives being relegated to a basement seems to accord with the location of many archival facilities with which I'm familiar.

Friday, April 3, 2015

The World Before Us (2014) novel

Original Novel Title: The World Before Us
Author: Aislinn Hunter
Publisher: Doubleday Canada, 2014.

This novel contains three timelines, one of which, 2010, has an archivist, 34 year-old  Jane Standen, who works for a London museum that's due to close from lack of funding.

Friday, September 2, 2011

The Devil Colony (2011) novel

Original Novel Title: The Devil Colony: A Sigma Force Novel
Author: James Rollins
Publisher: William Morrow, 2011.

Rollins' novel The Devil Colony contains a typical mischaracterization of an archives as a museum. In this case, it is really inexcusable since he's profiling the United States National Archives which even has the word archives in its name. Yet he insists on calling it a museum, not once, but at least twice.

"Painter scrunched his brow. Why was Seichan sniffing around the National Archives? The museum was a storehouse of America's historical manuscripts and documents. ..." (p. 84)

Charpter 9 of Part 1 has some of the characters visiting the National Archives very late at night:

"Dr. Eric Heisman was one of the museum's [National Archives'] curators, specializing in Colonial American history." (p. 88)

And again on page 91 Dr. Heisman is referred to as a curator.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Super 8 (2011) movie

The Super 8 movie released June 10, 2011 is written and directed by J.J. Abrams and produced by Steven Spielberg. The Editing Room section of the official Web site makes clever use of archival film footage that appears to have been heavily censored.

The Hypothesis of the Stolen Painting (1978) movie

The Hypothesis of the Stolen Painting is a 1978 movie by director Paul Ruiz. According to the DVD package blurb, "A bumbling art collect attempts to reconstruct the content of a painting missing from a series of seven painted 100years earlier by an eccentric artist."

The movie is adapted from a novel of the same name by Pierre Klossowski.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

The Modigliani Scandal (1976, 1985) novel

Ken Follett originally published his novel The Modigliani Scandal in 1976 under the pseudonym of Zachary Stone, at least that's my assumption since it was copyrighted that year to that person. The novel was reissued under his own name in May 1985 as a paperback.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

The Rembrandt Affair (2010) novel

Daniel Silva's 2010 novel The Rembrandt Affair features once again his art restorer-sleuth Gabriel Allon, this time, as the time suggests, on the trail of a stolen, priceless and deadly Rembrandt painting.

In addition to scenes inside art galleries (public and private), there is also at least one depiction of an archivist, "a tall man in his early forties with reddish blond hair" who worked in the Jewish Historical Museum in Amsterdam. The scene between Gabriel Allon and him is on p. 83-85 (hardcover). On p. 172 (hardcover) there is also a reference to the "archives of Argentina's Immigration Office."