Re: RARA-AVIS: Re: That Ever-popular Macdonald Conspiracy

MT (
Mon, 15 Mar 1999 22:58:33 -0500 Geraldine:

<<On the contrary. As a lurker, I have to step out and say that I, for
one, did not feel cheated. What I loved about Macdonald was the depth of
his stories. I am going to have to read his bio because after reading
his books, I was convinced he came from an exceptionally dysfunctional
family. Why else does his root of crime go so far back?>>

I am convinced that at a certain point he felt compelled (perhaps to the
point of obsession) to write about the long-term consequences of
people's actions. My comment, however, had little to do with the
author's reasons for writing what he did; I was referring to his
palpable dependence on a formula.

<<Perhaps the attitude that crime has no history, that we have made
ourselves comes out of the shortness of American memory. While we
celebrate the 200th anniversary of this country, others are talking
about thousands of years of civilization. While Los Angeles tears itself
down and reconstructs new streets, neighborhoods and communities,
Europe, Asia and the rest of the world is bound to its past.>>

All of this is true, but I don't see what it has to do with my post, or
with Ross Macdonald's themes, or with his constant reuse of them after
The Galton Case -- unless you are talking about people in the United
States wanting desperately to forget where they came from. There is
certainly enough of that. However, I doubt that this is the right forum
to discuss one of our great national neuroses and myths. I also doubt
that Ross Macdonald's novels could be stretched to a giant metaphor
covering an entire country's desire to deny its past. In my opinion,
this is better accomplished by fictions that, working from inside a
given group, reveal how it interacts with the mainstream (I am using
this unforgivable word for lack of a better one) and how it remains
different -- for me personally, Henry Roth's _Call It Sleep_ and its
incredible late sequels, as well as Bernard Malamud's works, do that
marvellously. They invoke specific images, specific codes, specific
languages, and a specific ethos.

Did I say that this was not the right forum?

Regards, and apologies for rambling wildly off-topic.

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