Re: RARA-AVIS: Re: career and peak and more questions to Jerry Healy

From: George Upper (
Date: 23 Nov 2001

--- Mark Sullivan <> wrote:
> Faber was Scudder's Superego, while Mick
> is his Id. It could
> be interesting to see how Scudder operates without
> that shoring. (I
> haven't read Hope to Die, yet, so I don't know if it
> really has made a
> difference; I'm just speculating.)

I finished HOPE TO DIE yesterday. It is, in my opinion, one of the best in the series. Without Faber, Scudder returns to some of his older compensating mechanisms--I won't give them away here, but any Scudder fan will spot them pretty quick.

Only one complaint--several writers who write in the 1st person have lately added chapters, often written in italics, written in the third person. Parker did this in CRIMSON JOY and THIN AIR; Burke did something similar, but a bit more subtley, in PURPLE CANE ROAD. Anyway, Block does it here, and I know exactly why he does it, as will anyone who reads the book, but it tends to get on my nerves. I guess I'm a purist--first person is first person, and interludes of someone else's point of view don't belong there.

To his credit, Block makes these chapters less intrusive than Parker, and has both better characterization and a better justification for writing these intrusions in the first place. Burke did it exceptionally well, I thought--I didn't even notice what he was doing until the third or fourth
"intrusion." (Actually, Burke didn't change points of view--he just had Robicheaux narrate a bunch of info he couldn't possibly have known--events in the distant past to which there were no witnesses, etc.) However, a professor of mine who's also a Burke fan was annoyed by those passages, so maybe it was just me.

Can anyone think of anyone prior to Parker who inserted this type of chapter into a first-person narration? If not, this may be another of Parker's innovations--although I would have to argue that it is an innovation of questionable value.

Anyway, HOPE TO DIE is a good Scudder. I think Block at his worst still beats the heck out of a lot of other people--and this is NOT Block at his worst. EIGHT MILLION WAYS TO DIE and WHEN THE SACRED GINMILL CLOSES are very hard books to supercede, but HOPE TO DIE is up there with the best books of the series.


===== George C. Upper III, Editor The Lightning Bell Poetry Journal

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