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

Date: 13 Dec 2001

   I find the whole idea of footnotes in fiction rather puzzling - almost an admission of failure on the authors part.

Ellroy seems the best example. I read all of the LA Quartet with no knowledge (beyond the most general) of the post war history of Los Angeles - and loved them. I have since followed up and become interested in some of that history, through the much praised City of Crystal in part.

I don't think that this knowledge added anything to my enjoyment of the books. In fact, in that most hardboiled fiction is North American, a lot of references go flying right over my poor British head. I think that Ellroy has written about his own childhood rather than an historical period. I also, by-the-by, think that the political implications of his work are to the far left (anarchist rather than socialist), but love his work despite his dopey "white knight of the far right" persona.

I have not read the Flashman books. I understand how certain novels/cannons become dense and self contained enough to justify readers guides - Lord of the Rings, Gormenghast, Holmes, etc. But if any author is losing the "impact" of his work through the lack of em then he is not doing his job - some things are universal and clubs/music/street names shouldn't carry such weight that lack of knowledge of them should have such an effect. To take a stupid example, if in 200 years time someone reads that James Bond drives an Aston Martin I don't think that they will have much trouble in picturing a rather fast and flash car.

Good writing yes! Glossaries no!


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This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : 13 Dec 2001 EST