Re: RARA-AVIS: What Is Good Fiction?

Greg Swan (
Thu, 22 Jan 1998 06:25:14 -0700 Don zee lm wrote:
> If the gentleman from Ann Arbor (and, perhaps, his class) doesn't think much
> of the pulp-fiction writers, such as Chandler, Hammett, Cain, Davis and
> others, may I submit this question:
> Who is a good writer?

The gentleman from Ann Arbor was having trouble understanding the attraction
of Daly.

I suggested the attraction could be understood in the context of the school
of writing and the time period under study. I also suggested that the
adjective fun could be applied to Daly's writing and that I enjoy writing I
consider to be fun.

The gentleman then appeared to suggest that my contextual and subjectivist
approaches to appreciating an author may not be appropriate. Instead, he
took a more objectivist tack, explaining that there were in fact Good
Writers and Bad Writers, as opposed to writers a person likes and writers a
person doesn't like. He then attempted to establish his authority for
speaking by asserting that he and his students know Good Writing when they
see it.

He also seemed to be questioning my authority to speak by suggesting that I
believed pretention and profundity were the same thing. Either that or he
was trying to explain to me that he understood why I had employed two
different adjectives. I'm not sure which, although I strongly suspect the

He did not suggest that Chandler, Hammett, Cain and Davis were Bad Writers,
though. He believed they were the Good Writers.

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