Re: RARA-AVIS: Re: Jacques Barzun

From: Juri Nummelin (
Date: 04 Dec 2000

On Mon, 4 Dec 2000, Kevin Burton Smith wrote:

> >Catalogue of
> >Crime (1971).
> Yeah. I remember going through it quite a few times several years ago
> at a local library. While any ambitious bibliographical/critical work
> of that scope is bound to contain errors, I seem to recall A
> Catalogue of Crime having some real honkers, and some of the opinions
> (even if they are only opinions) really out to lunch. Though to be
> fair, at this point, I can't recall any of them. Maybe something like
> Hammett being a hack and a vulgarian? Anyway, I know I stopped using
> it as a reference source. Then again, who am I to talk about bloated,
> opinionated reference sources?

[Kevin, there's something wrong with your e-mail. I may have more of my senior moments, but using the reply technique the quote of your message looks just like it did earlier. Or maybe my e-mail is busted.]

Barzun's and Taylor's book is almost useless. There are short short short reviews of books you don't want to know about -- some obscure early 20th century British holiday writers -- and those you want to know about are dismissed easily. And what's the point of having only one or two of the books by some author? Take Day Keene for instance, he's only discussed in the case of two books, his first and rather weak novel
"Framed in Guilt" and some other which the two critically open-minded readers don't like either. And I believe they are only people on earth who don't like the Schlock Homes stories of Robert Fish. Don't waste your time on that book. Usually browsing through a reference work such as this is intriguing, but not with this one.


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