RARA-AVIS: Two Quick Recommendations and One Pan

Doug Bassett (dj_bassett@yahoo.com)
Sun, 19 Dec 1999 07:55:33 -0800 (PST)

Hello, everybody:

Just wanted to recommend a couple of books you might have missed:

John D Macdonald -- The Girl, The Gold Watch, and Everything

I'd heard about this one for a long time before I finally picked up a copy. It's marvelous -- one of his best non-McGees, I think. Imagine a typical Macdonald story (predatory females, complicated scams, violent sequences) played for laughs, with a hapless protagonist who's scared of women and some fantasy sequences. Macdonald had a real talent for screwball comedy, and it's a shame he didn't indulge it more frequently.

Alan Caillou -- Assault on Kolchak

I've been on a big Men's Adventure kick recently, which basically means reading a bunch of books with numbers on the covers. Most of them are pretty bad, but this one was a find. It's part of the Cabot Cain series: Cain is a gigantic genius who runs around helping people and getting into adventures. What makes the book worth reading is the level of writing, which is quite high. The whole thing's told with zip and panache -- it's the sort of thing Talbot Mundy would've written in 1969. I know nothing about Caillou, except that he wrote some other series which sound more hardboiled (one about mercenaries, for example).

And here's one I can't recommend:

Kenneth Fearing -- The Big Clock

Which is a shame, considering its reputation. But I found the story labored and sort of pseudo-literary: it's the kind of hb book someone who didn't really believe in hb fiction might write, someone who wanted to "uplift" the genre. After enduring page after page of the unlikable protagonist's "serious" musings, I finally just skimmed the rest of it, found out who did what to whom (very predictable) and tossed it aside.

Happy Holidays, everyone.


===== Doug Bassett dj_bassett@yahoo.com
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