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

MT (
Wed, 31 Mar 1999 11:53:24 -0500 Geraldine, responding to something I wrote (I think):

<<My point is I happen to like his retelling of the "same Freudian
story," and I don't think I'm alone. Looking at the numbers of what
stays in print, it seems people buy his "retelling the same Freudian
story over and over again." In other words, I'm not alone.>>

I think you have misunderstood my comments. I like Macdonald, too.
However, we were discussing his relative stature and true worth among
hardboiled writers.

<<Despite your complaints of his repetitiveness, he and his body of work
has stood the test of time. He over-shadows many writers who created new
and varied plots, themes, and characters, who didn't repeat themes.>>

The repetitiveness is a fact, not an opinion manufactured by me. Your
second sentence was precisely the point at issue - namely, whether he
indeed "overshadows" other worthy writers, and to what degree and why
the public has such a perception (I should say "had" since Macdonald
doesn't seem to be as popular as he once was; his work even went out of
print for a while). Closely related to the perception in question is the
appearance that Macdonald was a "serious and deep" writer while, say,
Willeford, Himes or Gault were not. I contend that Macdonald's perceived
preeminence rests on a false foundation: the dichotomy between serious
literature and entertainment products. At least the French were smart
enough to recognize early on that such a dichotomy is false (see Goodis

<<I just started reading Nolan's biography, which I find fascinating. A
great read.>>

I bought it the other day. I hope the huge backlog lets me get to it
sometime this year. Ever since I unearthed the complete works of the
great Spanish master Quevedo (twenty-some volumes!) from storage I have
been too busy and entranced with that to read more than a few hardboiled
volumes. Storing things in boxes is a bad thing. By the way, I bought
this great and hard to find set at a library sale (at a major university
which shall remain nameless in order not to shame it). They were getting
rid of it and a lot of other classics -- if my Latin were better, I
could have loaded up on fine turn of the century editions of many great
classics in that language.

What the hell is happening to culture? The shelves are full of dreadful
"business literature", ridiculous "gender studies" pamphlets, and trashy
"self-healing" tracts but the incomparable Quevedo, the greatest stylist
ever in the Spanish language, is out?

Regards and end of rant.

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