RARA-AVIS: My suggestions for my Blown Away list

From: Doug Bassett ( dj_bassett@yahoo.com)
Date: 06 Jan 2000

Someone suggested that we list some "essential" titles for our list, as a help to people who didn't know the writers. A great idea -- and sort of a challenging one. Sometimes a writer's best book might not be the best one to start out with. Anyhow:

Raymond Chandler -- I've often thought that, just as there are cat and dog people, there are Hammett and Chandler people. As much as I admire Hammett, put me squarely in the Chandler camp. THE LONG GOODBYE, an absolutely gorgeous novel, is my favorite book of his, but I'd recommend starting with FAREWELL, MY LOVELY.

James Crumley -- His best novel to date, I think, is THE LAST GOOD KISS, but I'm not sure if it's still available. THE MEXICAN TREE DUCK should still be in print and it's excellent, too. Hell, everything Crumley's ever done is excellent, even his "straight" war novel ONE TO COUNT CADENCE. (I was surprised and pleased to see his name on so many lists. He's easily my favorite living writer in the genre.)

Chester Himes -- The Harlem series starts out fairly conventionally but gets stranger and stranger as it goes on. That's not a criticism -- I think the final novel in the series, BLIND MAN WITH A PISTOL, is the best of the series -- but it's not the place to start. Try THE BIG GOLD DREAM or ALL SHOT UP.

Ross Thomas -- Sort of a neglected writer nowadays, but I've loved everything I've ever read of his. He's an amazingly consistent writer, and anything he did is worth picking up. My favorite titles of his are THE FOOLS IN TOWN ARE ON OUR SIDE and CHINAMAN'S CHANCE. Anyone who likes Elmore Leonard should really try Thomas.

Ross Macdonald -- As a lot of people know, Millar didn't really find his voice until about halfway through the series. That'd be the best place to start, with THE GALTON CASE. (My favorite title is the incredibly moody THE CHILL.)

Well! That was fun!


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