Re: RARA-AVIS: Once more into the breech...

From: Doug Bassett (
Date: 01 Sep 2000

Like I said in an earlier post, I was a little flip about this before. But a couple of interesting questions occur to me -- ideas sparked by Mr. Nummelin's post:

When I wrote the original statement, I was thinking of writers like Max Byrd and Jeremiah Healy -- in my opinion fairly dull writers who were directly imitating the "Spenser" formula. If you share my opinion that these writers are dull, *why* are they dull? Is it that they themselves are poor writers? Or is it that the source material -- that which was being imitated, is limited?

In the heyday of the paperback originals, were there writers who tried to base a career by *directly* imitating a successful formula? (Were there imitators of Mike Hammer, for instance?) If you think there were, who comes to mind? Were they any good? Or were they awful, too?

Outside of my opinions on Byrd and Healy, I don't come to these questions with any preconceived notions. I guess all of a sudden I'm just curious about "the imitator" and whether such a figure can ever produce good work.


--- Juri Nummelin <> wrote:
> I just couldn't keep my hands out of this. I don't
> like Def Leppard
> at all and Motorhead I like only occasionally, but
> you must mean that if
> someone is out there just to make money, he can't do
> it good. Well,
> there are several examples to prove this wrong: The
> Monkees's wonderful
> pop songs, with perfect melodies and sufficient
> humour. The classical
> Hollywood - who would say that they weren't out
> there just to make
> money? Howard Hawks, the perfect auteur pinned so by
> the French critics,
> was one of the most succesful American directors of
> his time. And as for
> hardboiled literature, I believe such favoured
> authors like Richard
> Prather or Brett Halliday wanted just to make money.
> But they were good
> at what they were doing. The whole pulp/paperback
> phenomenon was about
> these writers making money. It was their profession.
> I think it would be
> pretentious to say that they wrote the way they did
> because they loved
> it, they were just good at what they were doing and
> hence could do so
> marvellous things with it.

===== Doug Bassett

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