Re: RARA-AVIS: Re: more money for thicker books

M-T (
Tue, 20 Jul 1999 12:57:42 -0400

Apropos of padding, I am now absorbed in Chester Himes's _Run, Man, Run_, a marvellous book that I hadn't read in about 15 years. Not only does this hardboiled novel have one of the most spellbinding opening chapters in crime fiction but it is written with the utmost economy. For those who don't know it, this Himes title is mandatory. The trade paperback copy I'm reading is from Carroll and Graf.

One problem when authors are expected to write 400-500 pages is that they often give way to their weaknesses and to the less pleasant sides of their personalities -- thus sentimentality, preaching, needlessly reiterative acts of brutality, and the social "issues" of the day creep in, usually to the detriment and dilution of the central idea. It's interesting to see how Himes handles racial conflict with minimal preaching, almost in a matter of fact way. He presents it laconically, through the actions and dialogue of his characters; also, he preserves a sense of humor despite the tense atmosphere of the novel.



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