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

James Rogers (
Mon, 12 Jan 1998 21:25:44 -0600 (CST) At 01:56 PM 1/12/98 -0500, you 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.

Unfortuntely, I pretty much agree with you. Oates to the
contrary, the Macdonald books didn't really seeem to take his character any
place that Marlowe hadn't already visited. Archer seems like the first of
the "me generation" of P.I.s....we get a bit more of his personal life
(divorces, etc,) than we need and to me it sort of wrecks the atmosphere of
lonely self-reliance that I expect from Chandler and Hammett. As to the
critcal attention he received, I recall that Chandler said he was almost
ruined as a writer (some would omit the "almost") when Auden did his essay
on him. I guess Archer and Marlowe were destroyed by the carriage trade,
just as they always suspected.

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James Michael Rogers
" I carried it too far, that's for sure" - Jeffrey Dahmer

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