RARA-AVIS: The Long Goodbye

From: Juri Nummelin ( jurnum@utu.fi)
Date: 01 Nov 2001

On Wed, 31 Oct 2001, Mark Sullivan wrote:

> Speaking of plot, Juri, I agree that Long Goodbye is clearer than much
> Chandler, but I figured out the gimmick fairly
> early on and I seldom even try to figure out whodunnit.

Neither do I. It's impossible to figure it out in some books ("The Big Sleep") and in some books it's uninteresting (I can't think of an example, but surely there must be - maybe a Stuar Kaminsky, whom you read for puns and Hollywood characters).

I was thinking about the whole issue: Aside from being a Leonardist, I'm also a Mametist: "Enter the stage late, exit it too early." What you don't know is more interesting than what you already know. The tensions between characters are more tense if you don't know at the beginning what's the catch. Robert Crais tells me too much about Carol Starkey
(and I should add that I'm beginning to think "Demolition Angel" is bloated). I don't get interested in her, since I know too much.

A counter-example, not a very hardboiled one: Melville's "Moby Dick". What makes Ahab tick? The metaphor for his craziness is a powerful one: a missing leg. Melville needs nothing more to get us interested in Ahab. Another example: Hank Quinlan in "Touch of Evil". Just one passing tall-tale about a murdered wife and that's it: the world-weary craziness, all-embracing cynicism, recluteness. And we love Quinlan and are worried about him and feel sorry for him in the end.


# To unsubscribe from the regular list, say "unsubscribe rara-avis" to
# majordomo@icomm.ca.  This will not work for the digest version.
# The web pages for the list are at http://www.miskatonic.org/rara-avis/ .

This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : 01 Nov 2001 EST