Re: RARA-AVIS: All Ross' children are out there, playing his licks...

M-T (
Sun, 07 Mar 1999 22:39:42 -0500 Kevin:

<<It's interesting, too, that both Grafton and Paretsky have been
brought up in our discussion of Macdonald and his influence on the
genre. In some ways, Macdonald, by introducing a sort of liberal (or
maybe leftish?) mindset of tolerance and compassion, and empathy for the
innocent, opened up the genre, and paved the way for the thirty-two
flavors of eyes we now have.>>


At the risk of sounding like a cantankerous party-pooper, let me say
that Macdonald cannot be credited with introducing such a mindset of
tolerance and compassion in hardboiled P.I. fiction. The Archer of the
first period had no such qualities - he was an exagerated Marlowe, a
hard and cynical, wisecracking tough guy.

On the other hand, Thomas B. Dewey (for example, in his 1953 classic,
_Every Bet's a Sure Thing_, in which Mac deals with two small children)
featured a humane and caring detective long before Macdonald made Archer
human -- the latter transformation was apparently the result of
Macdonald's own crisis and psychotherapy. Notice also that the remodeled
Archer is a jinx and a doomster -- he brings ruin to everyone involved.

Another author who (I think) preceded Macdonald in introducing an
anti-stereotypical, fully human detective is William Campbell Gault with
his Brock "The Rock" Callahan series, one of my favorite P.I. series.
Callahan has a personal life, has a normal relationship with women (a
steady girlfriend, who would later become his wife), has friends, is not
a ball of anger and repression, and overall has a healthy attitude
towards people and towards himself.

To be continued, obviously...

Regards, and it looks like this month's unofficial topic is Ross
Macdonald. He must have done something right to make people talk so

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