RARA-AVIS: Ice Storm Refugee Checks In!

Kevin Smith (kvnsmith@total.net)
Tue, 13 Jan 1998 23:11:55 -0400 Greetings from the wasteland! Power finally came on at the house we're
staying in, and I was able to catch up on some Rara-Avis stuff (had to haul
my Mac over to do it though-our house will be another week or so without

Hmmm....reading digests from the last week or so, here's a few comments:

Happy belated birthday, you old bird! And William, take a bow!

Ross Macdonald, once he finally figured out what he was trying to say, just
kept saying it over and over, sort of like Chandler's criticism of
Hemingway. Seems Macdonald himself was going through a bit of a real life
missing daughter job, and he worked it out through fiction. But his theme,
of a familie's past crimes catching up with the present, was a good one,
and the fact he wrote essentially the same book over and over, after The
Galton Case, shouldn't be held against him. Think of it as endless
improvisations on a good riff. Or, just because Roll Over Beethoven sounds
like Johnny B. Goode doesn't mean Chuck Berry couldn't rock.

Given all that, though, The Drowning Pool was pre-Galton Case, and was
really (IMHO) Macdonald trying to find his own voice, while still trying to
out-Chandler Chandler. His early books are often overwritten, and downright
sloppy at times, but I always liked The Drowning Pool, mostly because of
that scene at the end from which the book gets its title (why do writers
forget it's OK to get a little action in?). Seems I remember a pretty
savage mauling of Macdonald in an Armchair Detective several years ago,
where the author tore apart (I think) The Moving Target, pointing out
Macdonald's mistakes and excesses (I'll post the issue number once I'm back
home, if anyone's interested).

And James, I don't think comics are necessarily off-topic. There's a
current one called Jinx by Brian Bendix (I think-I can't check) that's
might stylish, about a female bounty hunter, a couple of low-grade career
criminals and a lot of missing loot. And Max Collins and Terry Beatty keep
promising to bring back Ms. Tree, a dame that could show V.I. and Kinsey a
few tricks. In fact, I think Ms. Tree is probably the hardest-boiled female
eye in town, tracing her roots, not to Marlowe and Spade, but doing an end
run around them to Mike Hammer and straight back to Race Williams.

Oh, and way back when there was power, I managed to catch Jackie Brown.
Great acting serves the caper plot well, but anyone expecting Pulp Fiction
II will be yelling rip-off! I liked it, and I think it bodes well for
Tarantino that he's willing to make a film geared for adults, rather than
the average moviegoer. It was nice to see a flick on a Saturday night in a
theatre not packed with 25-going-on-14-year-old yahoos. Someone give Robert
Forster another movie! And that DeNiro guy was pretty good, too. Maybe
someone should give him a movie, too.

Kevin Smith
Web Guy for The Thrilling Detective Web Site
For info, mailto:kvnsmith@total.net

"Well, I'll have some rotten nights after I've sent you over/But that'll
- Seeing the Real You at Last (Bob Dylan, via Dashiell Hammett)

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