RARA-AVIS: a few items and the short goodbye

From: George Pelecanos ( shoedog1@erols.com)
Date: 20 Feb 2002

Regarding all the negative comments on SUMMER OF FEAR, it might be helpful to note that Jeff Parker's first wife, Cat (to whom the book was dedicated) died of brain cancer during the writing of the novel. In the book (which I reviewed for the Washington Post), Parker makes some interesting connections between serial killers and cancer, implying that these random murderers are both manifestations of the anti-Christ. I don't know how Parker found the guts to tackle the subject matter in SUMMER OF FEAR as his wife was dying. He deserves some credit for going there, and for exploring inherent spiritual issues in a genre that tends to ignore them.

THE GETAWAY: one of the most shocking, inventive endings (right up there with THE BURGLAR) in hardboiled literature. But those who call Peckinpah's movie ending a copout should bear something in mind. In 1972, to have the stone-killer couple ride happily off into the sunset without paying for their sins was a very radical conceit. It just didn't happen in films up until then (even those rebels Bonnie and Clyde, not to mention The Wild Bunch--heroes to '60s counterculture audiences--had to buy it in an apocalyptic way). In its own way, for its own time, Peckinpah's ending was almost as anarchic as Thompson's.

BLACKBURN: I have to mention that BLACKBURN was brought out by Gordon Van Gelder, my former editor at St. Martin's Press, who bought my first novel off the slush pile many years ago. Gordon was revered amongst writers. If not for him, many risk-taking, ambitious genre novels would not have been published in the 90's. No, he's not dead. He's the editor and publisher of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. But genre literature definitely took a hit when he left the business of editing books.

That's it, I guess. I'm leaving the list. Have to go out on the road for awhile and sell some books. Just wanted to tell everyone how much I enjoyed it.

Peace, George Pelecanos

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