Re: RARA-AVIS: Stirring up trouble: Drowning and Connelly

James & Livia Reasoner (
Mon, 12 Jan 1998 20:04:42 -0600 Doug Levin wrote:

> All right, I'll stir up trouble to see if I can provoke some response.
> And I'll admit right off that my opinions are based on little sampling.
> 1. I've only read a little Ross MacDonald, but he seems way overrated
> to me. I first thought he was going to be great because Joyce Carol
> Oates praises him so highly in her review of the Library of America
> Chandler (she implies, as I recall, that MacDonald improved on
> Chandler). I read part of _The Goodbye Look_, then put it aside. Maybe
> the mere confines of family squabble seem uniteresting to me. I've read
> the first fifty pages of _Drowning Pool_. It seems competent to me,
> with some good dialogue and descriptions. At the same time, it often
> seems badly stagey and contrived (e.g., Archer's hearing the long
> dialogue, with all the innuendo, etc., when he first arrives for the
> cocktail party). I have recently read that John Leonard wrote a piece
> in Esquire in 1976 about how two critics (at Time and [Leonard? at] the
> New York Times) conspired to do big stories on MacDonald, and it was
> only after that time that he rose in notoriety.

Okay, I had decided that I wouldn't reread _The Drowning Pool_ (just not
enough time in the day), but now I'm going to have to. Macdonald was one
of my favorites when I first discovered hardboiled fiction. I always
preferred his earlier novels to his later, more critically acclaimed ones,

> 2. Michael Connelly has gotten a lot of attention and Mario Taboada
> (whose postings I always admire) recently spoke highly of Connelly. I
> read Black Ice--or rather about 200+ pages out of 300 or so. I renewed
> it, then finally let the library have it back, just as I was nearing the
> climax. I just didn't care; or rather, I didn't care about caring.
> Connelly's Bosch--at least in Black Ice--is the detective you learn too
> much about--he's a recovering alcoholic, he's got girl trouble, he's got
> issues. It's too much, I say, too much. Perhaps the other works are
> much better than Black Ice.

I tried to read Connelly a couple of years ago and had the same experience,
just didn't care enough to keep turning the pages.

James Reasoner
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