Re: RARA-AVIS: Susan Silverman

From: George Upper (
Date: 27 Nov 2001

--- Gerald So <> wrote:
> Parker may be keeping Susan around to appeal to
> women, but a lot of
> female readers find Susan insufferable. They may be
> more attracted to
> Spenser as the stalwart, faithful man.

I think Susan started as a valuable character. She does not intrude on (or comprise) the story line in her earlier appearances the way I feel she does in later works. PROMISED LAND, for instance, is one of Parker's best, and is largely concerned with the question of whether or not Susan and Spenser should marry.

Susan gave Parker a vehicle through which to explore how romantic love fits into a tough man's life in an essentially unromatic world. I may be in the minority, but I think Parker did a good job exploring that territory in his early work. Somewhere around 1980, however, Parker finished his exploration, printed the map, and now continues to drive around the countryside pointing at the same darn landmarks and saying "Look at that! Remember that?" In fact, to belabor the metaphor further, Parker's tour bus has run out of gas, and he's lately been limited to pointing at the few landmarks within easy walking distance.

But I still re-read the first eight or nine Spenser novels once in a while, and Susan doesn't bother me at all.


P.S.--"the question of" works even better than "the fact that" to pad a short essay.

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

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