Caleb Carr Speaks Out About Kill Your Darlings

Kill Your DarlingsTo date, I have avoided discussing the much publicised independent film Kill Your Darlings on 17th Street. Starring Daniel Radcliffe, Dane DeHann, and Michael C. Hall, the film claims to document the “true story” of the founding of the Beat Generation and focuses on “the murder that united the Beats,” 1944 murder of David Kammerer by Lucien Carr (Caleb Carr’s father). As none of the Carr family were consulted by the film’s research team and nobody from the family commented on the film following its release, I had made the decision to avoid discussing the film on the 17th Street blog, which I have always endeavored to keep strictly dedicated to Caleb Carr’s professional work and interviews. However, with the release of the film on DVD in a few weeks, Mr. Carr has recently spoken out about the film’s version of events, describing it as a “terribly inaccurate reading … based almost entirely on Allen Ginsberg’s versions of events.”

Rather than paraphrase Mr. Carr’s full statement here, I have included the first two paragraphs of the statement below and provide a link to its original source for visitors to continue reading.

You’re wholly right that “Kill Your Darlings” was a tired, ludicrous reading of the story of the murder case; and like all the other terribly inaccurate readings that have been put out there, it was based almost entirely on Allen Ginsberg’s versions of events. And Allen had an awful lot of reasons for revising the facts to suit a narrative that served his ego and his agenda far more effectively than it did the truth.

First off, the facts of the case: David Kammerer did not begin his obsession, as you have rightly suspected, when my father was an adult: it began when my father was only twelve or so, and Kammerer was his Boy Scout troop leader (and the fact that my father later killed Kammerer with his Boy Scout knife is not something that any psychologist or detective I know would ever dare to call a coincidence).

The remainder of the statement contains a powerful message about the damage produced by child abuse, the impact it has across generations, and the film’s distortion of the murder it supposedly documented. I, for one, am grateful that Mr. Carr has spoken out, and I hope that other visitors of 17th Street will feel similarly.

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Mary Palmer Character Profile

She was “the only woman he ever loved” and she now has a character profile on 17th Street. Following from Japheth Dury’s character profile being added to the supporting characters page of the full character list earlier this month, Mary Palmer’s character profile has now been completed and can also be found on the supporting characters page. In addition, the spoiler warning feature has been added to the profiles that appear on the main characters page of the full character list.

Palmer, Mary

Appears in The Alienist

Mary Palmer, an attractive young woman afflicted with classic motor aphasia (characterised by the extreme difficulty speaking even though comprehension abilities are preserved) and agraphia (an inability to express thoughts in writing), is employed as Dr. Laszlo Kreizler’s housekeeper for the duration of The Alienist. We learn early in the novel that Dr. Kreizler had first discovered Mary at the Lunatic Asylum on Blackwell’s Island where she had been involuntarily committed following the murder of her father in which she had chained him to his bed and set the house alight. Although Mary had been considered idiotic from early childhood due to her communication deficits, she appeared to have been cared for adequately by her family and had been taught to perform menial household duties as she was growing up. The murder of her father, a respectable schoolteacher, when she was only seventeen years old had therefore been considered an act of insanity, and she had been committed to the asylum as a result.

During his early consultations with Mary, Dr. Kreizler was struck by the lack of the symptoms she displayed for the only psychological disorder he felt constituted true insanity (dementia praecox, now known as schizophrenia), and he quickly determined her true diagnosis of motor aphasia and agraphia. After spending a number of weeks gaining Mary’s trust and developing a means of rudimentary communication with her, he went on to discover the shocking truth that her father had been sexually assaulting her for years prior to his murder. When the subsequent legal review of her case resulted in Mary walking free from the asylum, she managed to communicate to Dr. Kreizler that she would make a good employee for his household staff, and as her communication deficits would make it difficult for her to find employment elsewhere, the doctor agreed to take her on.

Click here to read more. Warning: Contains major spoilers for The Alienist

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Referencing Guide

As I’m currently taking the opportunity to catch up on research for future 17th Street updates, I only have a small update this weekend. I frequently get asked how to reference the material found on 17th Street given that I have chosen not to share my full name on the site for privacy reasons. As such, I have put together a brief referencing guide that can be found in the site section in order to provide examples of how to reference the material found on 17th Street in four major referencing styles — Harvard (AGPS), APA 6, MLA, and Vancouver — without an author. I hope this is useful to those of you who use the site for educational purposes. If there is another major referencing style that you would like me to add to the guide, please feel free to contact me.

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Japheth Dury Character Profile

Eight years after opening 17th Street, I am pleased to report that I have finally added a character profile for Japheth Dury (also known as John Beecham) to the supporting characters page of the full character list. As Japheth’s profile necessarily requires the inclusion of spoilers for the primary storyline of The Alienist, I have hidden the majority of the profile through a new spoiler warning feature. To read Japheth’s full profile on the supporting characters page or via the copy included below, please click on the spoiler warning which will reveal the complete profile. I will be adding the spoiler warning feature to other pages of the site as well as expanding the supporting characters page further over the coming months.

Dury, Mr. Japheth (also known as John Beecham)

Appears in The Alienist

Midway through The Alienist, the investigative team send enquiries to a number of hospitals looking for former patients who may fit the profile they have developed for the killer they have been hunting. A promising response from St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in Washington D.C. about a discharged soldier with a facial tick prompts Dr. Kreizler and John Moore to visit the city in search of further information. While there, John also visits the Bureau of Indian Affairs to search for cases of disputes between natives and white settlers that may relate to the investigation.

While John is searching the records at the Bureau of Indian Affairs, he comes across an interesting case relating to the violent killing of a minister named Victor Dury and his wife at their New Paltz, New York home sixteen years earlier; a murder that had been attributed to embittered Indians at the time. The only survivor of the attack was their youngest son, Japheth Dury, who was said to have been kidnapped by his parents’ killers.

Click here to read more. Warning: Contains major spoilers for The Alienist

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