Re: RARA-AVIS: Re: career and peak

From: M Blumenthal (
Date: 19 Nov 2001

Mario Taboada wrote,
> To judge by recent books like _The Ax_ and _The Hook_, both
> masterpieces of noir writing, Westlake is peaking right
> now. But I agree that he has maintained a consistently
> (very) high level throughout. By the way, Willeford wrote
> high quality stuff until the end of his life, as did Ross
> Thomas.
> About _The Hook_, which I read very recently: the author
> managed to make the book both scary and moving. He really
> makes those two writers live. It's one of his most
> heartfelt books. All the suspense gimmicks are perfectly
> integrated. I am surprised that this book is not better
> known.
> About Chandler, production and batting averages: one should
> not forget that Chandler started writing relatively late in
> his life.

Mario, Those were the books I was thinking of though I thought his last Richard Stark book disappointing. In the unlikely circumstance you haven't read it, find his comic novel, __A Likely Story__, which also deals with writers

.As far as batting average, only MLB at bats count in figuring it. Only Chandler's published work can be evaluated. The fact his first novel was published late in life should have no effect on a consideration of his career works. Offhand I can think of Joseph Conrad, who not only had his first books published at a fairly advanced age, but in a language he had learned as an adult. I don't think critics could bewail the loss of possible masterpieces he would have produced if he had started writing at a young age and been born in England. In both cases the writers might have needed life's experience before they were able to write at the high level they attained. Mark

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