RARA-AVIS: John Franklin Bardin

From: Mark Harris ( mark_r_harris@yahoo.com)
Date: 10 Feb 2002

<Rene asked:

> I found a copy of "The John Franklin
> Bardin Omnibus", which contains "Devil Take the
Blue-Tail Fly", "The
> Deadly Percheron" & "The Last of Philip Banter", at
a little stand
> selling 2nd hand books. I've been wanting to read
these books, which
> have quite a rep in certain circles, for a long
time. My impression is
> that this guy inhabits territory somewhere between
Fredric Brown &
> Cornell Woolrich, not your standard HB, more
psychological suspense Anyone out there read these books & have any comments
(sans spoilers,
> please)?

Your impression is quite correct, Rene. I've recommended this omnibus to a number of folks and have rarely gotten a negative feedback. The somewhat surreal plotting/storylines and offkilter dark reality of the novels meshes impressively - almost amazingly so - with the ordinary, often desperate characters that populate these strange, extra-ordinary novels. Brown and Woolrich? Yeah, I can see that...>

I read the entire omnibus last year and was very impressed - although, interestingly, the novel of the three that I found least satisfactory (Devil Take the Blue-Tail Fly) is the one Julian Symons touts as a masterpiece in the Introduction. My take is that The Last of Philip Banter is a *near*-masterpiece, only marred by a not-quite-convincing denouement, and that The Deadly Percheron runs it very close (the set-up of Percheron is dazzling, the denouement again less so). Ultimately I think that Bardin was a literary/surrealist novelist who found a haven in crime fiction (which is to say, their genre status made the novels publishable), but who also chafed against the boundaries of the form. (A couple of his later titles are apparently straight mainstream fiction; there are ten novels altogether, including four pseudonymous.) He is a writer of the second rank, perhaps, but one who shouldn't be missed. Here is an interesting Bardin website:


Mark Harris

===== Mark Harris Educational Consulting College Admissions Strategies 773-914-3472 http://admissionsplus.blogspot.com/

__________________________________________________ Do You Yahoo!? Send FREE Valentine eCards with Yahoo! Greetings! http://greetings.yahoo.com

# To unsubscribe from the regular list, say "unsubscribe rara-avis" to
# majordomo@icomm.ca.  This will not work for the digest version.
# The web pages for the list are at http://www.miskatonic.org/rara-avis/ .

This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : 10 Feb 2002 EST