Re: RARA-AVIS: Jones Men

From: Keith Logan (
Date: 27 May 2001

Mark Sullivan wrote:

>There were two bits of slang that were new to me, though. The first >was
P" for heroin, or "heh-rawn" as his characters say it. Does the >P stand for pure? At some points it does seem to refer to the quality >of the drug, but at others it just seems to mean the drug, alone.

Hmmm, I had assumed that "P" stood for product.

THE JONES MEN was a fine read, my preferred of the reissues by Old School Books from a couple of years back. Did anyone try S.R.O by Robert Deane Pharr? I could not get through it; too bleak. Utterly hopeless, in fact. It is (according to the cover blurb) "heavily autobiographical", and if so I would not want to walk a mile in Pharr's shoes. An intelligent, literate man becomes embroiled in the seedy doings of a Single Room Occupancy live-in hotel in Harlem. The narrative wanders from scene to scene, becoming more far-out, fantastic and sordid with each step. Very harsh. Has anyone made it through the whole book? Any hope at all for the writer character?

Call me soft-boiled but I like my reads to leave me with an inkling of redemption, that it is at least a remote possibility. I always felt this to be true in Hammett (esp. the Op stories) and Chandler; one reason I am not a Jim Thompson fan is the absence (in what I've read) of this feeling. Same can be said of Teran's GOD IS A BULLET; too nihilistic for my tastes.

Keith Logan

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