“Titanic,” which has been keeping me busy these days. It is available for the Kindle and the Nook, but there’s been some mysterious delay since it was uploaded to iBooks.
In case you have noticed that posting has been thin lately and it’s been a few days since I had a mystery photo, there’s a reason.
I’ve been involved in two projects that have consumed much of my time. The first is an e-book on the Titanic that The Times has published, drawing entirely on our stories, with images mostly from our photo collection.
The Titanic project is unlike any other involving the centennial because it has original coverage of the disaster; the Senate inquiry; profiles of some of the survivors years later – and their obituaries; discovery of the wreckage; a review of “A Night to Remember” and heavy coverage of James Cameron’s “Titanic,” including a clash between Cameron and Times movie critic Kenneth Turan over his commentaries on the film.
All of the stories up to 1985 had to be converted to digital form (i.e. typed), so aside from the e-book, there is no way to access the early material other than ProQuest, which for most people is only available through a library.
I will warn you that the original 1912 accounts are detailed and graphic. The survivors’ stories put you on the deck of the ship and in the lifeboats. I have read many graphic news accounts in my career, but some of the Titanic coverage is as harrowing as reading the stories from 9/11.
The other interesting result of doing a book on the Titanic – which was entirely unintentional and unexpected – is to see how the chaos of the original stories was sculpted into a narrative with a beginning, a middle and an end. It is always fascinating to see which details survive, which are lost and which are changed or altered – and the fictions that are introduced in the retelling.
The Clover Club, 1930s: From left, Al Wertheimer, Spencer Tracy, Milton Page, and his father, Milton “Farmer” Page. Credit: Courtesy of Milton Page. Read about them in my column in The Times.
And no, Spencer Tracy wasn’t on the Titanic. My other project has been to do a couple of columns for The Times while Hector Tobar is on book leave. My first was on Ed Fuentes and my latest was about 1920s L.A. gambling figure “Farmer” Page and his son, Milton, 87.