Re: RARA-AVIS: Re: RARA-AVIS The death of the hardboiled

From: James Rogers (
Date: 20 May 2000

At 11:34 AM 5/20/00 -0700, you wrote:
>Haven't read any Pronzini's fiction, so I can't
>comment on that, but I have read some of his entries
>in a huge encyclopedia of Mystery fiction entitled the
>St. James Guide (I think). They're very well done --
>Pronzini obviously knows the field well and can speak
>intelligently about it. (He has also contributed to
>the St. James Encylopedia of Western fiction, where
>he's equally interesting. Again, not sure of the title
>-- read these in a library).
>I agree, too, that he's an excellent editor.
>Doesn't pay, in my opinion, to get overexcited about
>comments like the Pronzini one under discussion. Ain't
>nobody in the world exempt from making dumb comments,
>and that's all this is, a dumb comment. It's just Mr.
>Pronzini's bad luck to have his dumb comment
>immortalized in print for the rest of us to laugh at.

     One of the most interesting, and infuriating, books I have read is Julian Symons's _Mortal Consequences_. It hopes to be a definitive survey of the mystery novel up through the mid-seventies. Very opinionated, and guaranteed to annoy practically every reader somewhere. Symons demonstrates a fairly encylopediac knowledge of the field and is often right on target in matters relating to the strength and weaknesses of various authors. He is also contemptously, and often unfairly, dismissive of various scribes, especially if they are dead.
    The perceptive opinions of decent writers and humans often exist cheek to jowl with bizarre opinions. Tolstoy told Chekov to stick to prose and give up drama because his plays were "terrible, almost as bad as Shakespeare's". True story. Of course, he hated his own books too.


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