Welcome to 17th Street

Welcome to 17th Street, a website dedicated to Caleb Carr and the Alienist books. It features the latest Caleb Carr news, a full author biography and interview list, book summaries and timelines for The Alienist and The Angel of Darkness along with synopses Caleb Carr's other work, analyses of the characters from the Alienist books, and information on the real history behind the Alienist books. Navigation for this site is at the top, showing the different sections of the site. Relevant links within the section (if applicable) will show up in the left column.

Latest News

Maggie, A Girl of the Streets by Stephen Crane

We return to the 17th Street book blogs this month by moving far away from the world of Fifth Avenue mansions and upper class society for a journey into the slums of old New York. Although Caleb Carr has not, to my knowledge, referenced the work of late nineteenth century journalist and novelist Stephen Crane as an influence for the Alienist books, readers of Crane’s atmospheric New York novellas will instantly recognise the same city that was so vividly portrayed in The Alienist and The Angel of Darkness. Given that I have utilised the 2001 Modern Library Classics edition of Crane’s New York writings for this blog, which contains the definitive versions of his novellas Maggie, A Girl of the Streets (1893) and George’s Mother (1896), along with a comprehensive selection of his other Bowery tales, we will be considering both of Crane’s New York novellas together in the following post, rather than just focusing on Maggie, the most famous of the pair.

What’s it about?

Maggie, A Girl of the StreetsMaggie, A Girl of the Streets opens with a scene that would not be out of place if glimpsed in one of the Alienist books. Jimmie, “the little champion of Rum Alley,” is embroiled in a fight with a gang of street urchins from nearby Devil’s Row. Battered and bruised, with blood “bubbling over his chin and down upon his ragged shirt,” the fight only comes to a halt when Jimmie’s father arrives on the scene, obtaining his son’s obedience through violence of his own. As this opening scene suggests, life in the family home is no less frightening than life on the streets for Jimmie, his quiet older sister, Maggie, and his confused and neglected baby brother, Tommie. With a drunken father and an equally drunken, vicious mother who can match her husband blow for blow, Maggie, A Girl of the Streets chronicles the stories of Jimmie and Maggie as they grow up to find their own places in the poverty-stricken world that surrounds them, with one child embracing their fate while the other tries in vain to search for a way out.

In George’s Mother, the sequel to Maggie, A Girl of the Streets, we return once more to the tenement building of Jimmie’s family. Unlike Maggie, however, George’s Mother explores the inner struggles of George Kelcey, the hard-working son of a loving, patient, and temperance supporting mother who has only one fear for her sole surviving child: that he will succumb to the vice that lurks on every street corner in their neighbourhood, and turn to drink. Through these contrasting family portraits, Crane vividly demonstrates the powerful hold that alcohol maintained in the lives of the poor in late nineteenth century New York, and doesn’t shy away from chronicling its effects on the lives of children and adults alike, both inside and outside the family home.

My thoughts

My first impression upon reading the opening lines of Maggie, A Girl of the Streets, along with George’s Mother following it, was that I had once more been transported back into the world that John Moore and Stevie Taggert so vividly describe in The Alienist and The Angel of Darkness. Once again, the reader is there, looking down on the dusty streets from surrounding tenement buildings as we hear the howls arising from a gang of children hurling stones at a small boy who is standing atop a heap of gravel in a vain attempt to defend the honour of Rum Alley. Similarly, in George’s Mother we find ourselves “in the swirling rain that came at dusk” on a broad avenue glistening “with that deep bluish tint which is so widely condemned when it is put into pictures,” through which we witness,

George’s Mother, Chapter I

… the endless processions of people, mighty hosts, with umbrellas waving, banner-like, over them. Horse-cars, aglitter with new paint, rumbled in steady array between the pillars that supported the elevated railroad. The whole street resounded with the tinkle of bells, the roar of iron-shod wheels on the cobbles, the ceaseless trample of the hundreds of feet. Above all, too, could be heard the loud screams of the tiny newsboys, who scurried in all directions. Upon the corners, standing in from the dripping eaves, were many loungers, descended from the world that used to prostrate itself before pageantry.

Although Crane’s masterful portraits of the streets he knew so well are reason enough for any Alienist reader to pick up these stories, it is his examination of the role that alcohol played in the lives of the poor, and its contribution to other forms of vice ranging from violence to prostitution, that make these stories so compelling. | Continue reading →

What do you think? Leave a comment!

Small Website Update

Filed under: Site NewsKim on

You may have noticed a drop-off in updates over the past few months on 17th Street. Unfortunately I am currently flat out with offline work and travel commitments which may continue to slow down updates of the website content over the next couple of months. However, I have taken some time out of my schedule this week for a small update that will hopefully make the individual posts in 17th Street’s history blog series and book blog series more accessible.

You can now find the special three-part series overviewing The Alienist’s themes on The Alienist submenu. In addition, links to 17th Street’s multi-part history blogs can now be found under the Alienist History submenu, while a new submenu entitled Related Books containing links to all of 17th Street’s individual book blogs can be found on the main Alienist Books menu.

It is my hope that more updates to the website content will follow in the coming months. In the meantime, I will be keeping 17th Street up to date with all the latest news about the television adaptation of The Alienist as it becomes available. Thank you for your patience.

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The Alienist television series to air on TNT

the-alienist-newsletterTNT announced today that as part of an overhaul of the network’s drama offerings, it has made a series commitment to Paramount Television and Anonymous Content’s highly anticipated adaptation of The Alienist. According to Variety, it was a “$5-million-per-episode deal for the eight-part series,” although it was also reported that the exact number of episodes in the series is “still to be determined.”

This exciting news follows the announcement last month that Cary Fukunaga of True Detective fame will be directing and executive producing the series, with Eric Roth and screenwriter Hossein Amini also on board as executive producers. There has been no word on casting as of yet, but you can be sure that any new developments will be posted here on 17th Street as they arise.

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Cary Fukunaga to Direct The Alienist

Cary FukunagaThe entertainment industry is buzzing with the news today that Cary Fukunaga, Emmy Award winning director of True Detective, will direct and executive produce the eagerly anticipated television drama series inspired by The Alienist, first announced by Paramount Television and Anonymous Content in April/May of last year. Oscar winning writer and producer Eric Roth (Forrest Gump) and Oscar nominated writer and director Hossein Amini (The Wings of the Dove) have also been named as executive producers. It is reported that Hossein Amini has written the pilot, and will go on to write the series.

Paramount Television’s President Amy Powell and Anonymous Content’s Steve Golin and Rosalie Swedlin were quoted by Variety on this exciting development:

“‘The Alienist‘ is a fascinating and distinctive, fast-paced psychological thriller that is wonderfully evocative of the unrivaled Gilded Age of New York City,” said Paramount Television President Amy Powell. “Cary Fukunaga’s unique vision and ability to render compelling, distinctive and superbly atmospheric direction is the perfect voice for this television series. We are thrilled to have not only Cary’s expert direction, but also the creativity, imagination and storytelling abilities of the supremely talented Eric Roth and Hossein Amini.”

“We are thrilled that Paramount has entrusted us and our brilliant creative dream team — Eric Roth, Hossein Amini, and Cary Fukunaga — to bring this much beloved, bestselling novel to the screen,” said Anonymous Content’s Steve Golin and Rosalie Swedlin, who will also executive produce the series. “The multi-episodic format will enable us to do justice to the complexity of Caleb Carr’s storytelling and his vivid and detailed portrait of late 19th century New York in all its splendor and grittiness.”

Photo Credit: “Cary Fukunaga2009” by Johan GunnarssonFlickr: Cary Fukunaga. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

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