Re: RARA-AVIS: Recent reads

From: George Upper (
Date: 26 Apr 2001

> What do the fedoras and fedorettes think of Burke?
> Regards,
> MrT

Well, I agree and I disagree, MrT. I think Burke is fantastic--in fact, I think he's the best currect practitioner of the hardboiled genre. And that, of course, is where I disagree. I don't think he's descended from the Southern school so much as influenced by it--the themes of the hardboiled genre are all present, but he has added an element of magical realism and a southern mindset to his work. Honestly, I think he's the most original practitioner since, oh, Ross MacDonald. (Incidentally, he's not my favorite; but I think he's more worthly of critical attention than anyone else currently writing.)

As far as his quest for literary significance, I also have to disagree...I think he's already acheived it. In fact, he did it with his earliest work, before he'd even begun working with detective fiction. I am surprised that he has received so little literary attention, actually--although I think that is coming to an end. I know at least two minor critical pieces were published about him last year, and more are coming.

However, I think his best work (in the detective field, anyway) is either _In Electric Mist with Confederate Dead_ or _Purple Cane Road_ (the latter is not yet out in paperback, I don't believe).

And finally, let me say how happy I am to have stumbled upon Rara-Avis this afternoon. I am a grad student in English, writing one of my thesis papers on
(you'll never guess) Burke, as well as Poe, Carroll John Daly, and John D. MacDonald.


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