RARA-AVIS: Re: The unexamined life

From: Gerald So ( gso@optonline.net)
Date: 20 Nov 2001

Dick and Mark,

Good points. In my case, Spenser's sense of humor seemed to match mine, and we had a similar commitment to "being good," though mine's not codified, nor as on-the-sleeve as Spenser's. These factors helped me identify with Spenser better than with Marlowe or Spade.

Perhaps Parker's "great contribution" was the hard-boiled P.I. readers were allowed to know. I agree that after several books (different readers have different thresholds) we know too much. Spenser's ego now overshadows any plot. Any secrets Parker may have at one time held, he's exploited. Yet some fans still read the books happily, to visit with Spenser and one day learn the Big Secret...his first name.

As I said earlier, I like some blunt assurance of a character's leaning, but too much assurance tips the character over. (Forgive the pun.) At the other end of the spectrum is Lew Archer, whom I found had very little personality. He was supposed to be a lens through which readers could view the world and maybe role-play as Mark said. It disturbed me, though, to feel after three books that I didn't know the man.


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