Re: RARA-AVIS: Re: Pellecanos (and Adams)

Date: 07 Feb 2000

> even if I believed he's doing what you say he's doing, ("intruding the
> postmodern on the neo-realistic world") after the first fifty or so
> iterations, I'd have to say "OKAY. I"VE GOT IT. GET ON WITH THE STORY!
> believe that one of the first, and few, obligations of the fiction writer,
> and especially the hard-boiled crime writer, is to tell a fast, lean tale.
> George P. can do that; he just chooses (often) not to do it, and I think
> other stuff becomes mannered, author speak, and gets in the way of his
> a mistake Hammett never made.

Ouch. And I think this shows an unfortunate case of someone who never, ever wants the genre to change ever. (If I'm wrong, I apologize, but it is the impression I received from the post). At least in storytelling style. I was EXCITED to see GP doing this in the books. Times change, ways to tell a story change. The brands and music and things you call "mannered" are, to me, nice side trips that make the books more interesting than the stories do alone. I've been taught to go into writing a story with a few ideas, thoughts, but then to let the characters surprise me, and let the story go where it goes. Then, in revision, fine tune and polish and make the story that happened work. With George Pelecanos, it's here, it works. He's extending Elmore Leonard's work, which usually just goes unexpected places because of how the characters reveal themselves, and due to the chaotic, un-lean world we live in. Same with James Crumley. To see that as a mistake is to place a rigid standard on what should be considered good writing (accounting for personal taste, you might not like it, but that makes his style bad?). As for comparing it to Hammett, let's remember that Hammett was writing seventy years ago. And I'm not diminishing his achievement, as I do love Hammett's work enormously, but how about comparing Hammett to Poe, then? I think it would be just as unfair as comparing Hammett to Pelecanos. It's much more interesting to track the evolution of the genre rather than say "Anything outside these lines doesn't work."

Neil Smith

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This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : 07 Feb 2000 EST