Re: RARA-AVIS: God is in the details, not the footnotes....

From: M Blumenthal (
Date: 12 Dec 2001

Kevin Burton Smith:
> Or, like, read and learn. No matter what someone writes, someone will
> miss it. Where would it stop? Street maps for people who don't live
> in the city the story is set? A dictionary/glossary at the back for
> big words? Annotations and footnotes?

Kevin, The books George Pelecanos is writing are not set in his present. They are hard boiled, but they are also historical novels . Books in George McDonald Fraser's Flashman series have copious footnotes which are explained in the back of the book grouped by chapter. You can look up a footnote immediately, interrupting the flow, read them at the end of a chapter as I do, or complertely ignore them. I was given a separate book that explains references in Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey-Maturin books. You can choose similar options.

Sure, my suggestion was somewhat facetious, but some people reading George's books might find something similar useful. As I read more of the books I have become used to them, and, as I wrote, I started to miss this layering of information which may be only tangential to the plot. I have been able to work out some slang that was not familiar to me from the context I now ignore or get the sense of the music that I don't know, but I'm sure I am no getting the whole effect George intended.

I have read many books, science fiction especially, that have pages of dialogue only to explain concepts or devices that will in the plot. George's books are stronger becaused he doesn't have long passages that do something similar. If you read his books you can not just be passive. Len Bias died sixteen years ago. Many people reading Sweet Forever will have no knowledge of him. Though his death and the cause of it resonates throughout the book, though it is never explicitly mentioned. I think this makes the book stronger, yet anybody who doesn't know these details or at least bothers to discover them is going to miss much of the book's impact. Mark . .

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