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

Kevin Smith (
Mon, 8 Mar 1999 09:35:11 -0500 <<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.

Right. I don't think he can be solely credited with that, either, which is
why I qualified my statement with "In some ways..." But his popularity,
whether he was the first or not, makes his influence an awful big stick.
And your comments on Archer's contemporaries, Dewey's Mac and Gault's Brock
Callahan, are right on the money. At least Gault's books were recently
(what? ten years ago?) reissued, but most of Thomas B. Dewey's Macs (and
his other, lighter series, about married eye Pete Schofield) haven't been
reprinted for years, and are, sadly, getting harder and harder to find,
which is a real shame.

Maybe one of those British presses will re-issue them. Somehow, I doubt
many American companies are interested. Not when they're too busy promoting
Monica's Cookbook or Everything I Ever Needed to Know I Learned From Eating
Chicken Soup on Mars.

I particularly enjoy some of the Mac books, sorta Archer without much of
the psycho-drama. But, while I can intellectually and critically admire
Dewey's stuff, it doesn't move me the way much of Macdonald's did, even
though Dewey may have been a better writer. In other words, as much as I'm
a fan of Macdonald, I'm also ambivalent as hell about his work. Anyone else
out there have the same emotional response to Macdonald's work? Or am I
just being a bigger weenie than usual?

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

I think one reason Macdonald always draws such a, not heated, but, um,
vivid discussion, is that somehow, he did manage to touch some folks
emotionally. I guess that's what he did right. And it's why some folks are
uneasy about him, and at least why there's such varied response to his work.

And I've got a paperback of MacShane's 1976 THE LIFE OF RAYMOND CHANDLER,
too. But didn't MacShane revise, or write another, later, biography of
Chandler? Or am I getting it confused with his THE SELECTED LETTERS of

Kevin Smith
The Thrilling Detective Web Site

Now out: The February issue, with fiction from Robert Iles and Leigh Brackett,
and Face the Face, our new contest for fans of paperback eyes.! Yippy!

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