Re: RARA-AVIS: a few items and the short goodbye

From: George Upper (
Date: 21 Feb 2002

--- Rene Ribic <> wrote:
> Likewise, I meant no disrespect to Parker. I was
> completely unaware of
> any personal problems that he had & in fact the only
> thing I knew about
> him was the one novel of his I'd read, "Summer of
> Fear", of which I
> recall very little except that it didn't really
> float my boat. Although
> I empathise with his situation (my mother died of
> cancer & I spent her
> last night in the hospital room with her when she
> died, so I think I'm
> fairly sensitive about this issue) I don't really
> see this as being
> relevant to whether or not a book is a good read.

I have to disagree with this. I think the author's state of mind, background experience, etc., all figures into "whether or not a book is a good read." I read Daly because of his historical position and continue to read Parker (the other one) because of what he once was to me; neither of these issues has much to do with the book in front of me at any given time. Likewise, I've read Crider and Pelecanos and probably enjoyed them more because I "know" the authors. We've discussed here how certain writers are only okay at the craft but offer insights into politics or geography or a certain sub-culture or whatever based on who the author is *and what he or she was able to put into the work because of who he or she is.* I haven't read the book in question, but knowing what I know now about Parker, it will unquestionably be a different book--I'll probably see a little more Parker in it. That's certainly not irrelevant to whether or not the book is a good read, is it?

I guess what I'm saying is that we don't read books in a vacuum. We bring a context to our reading, and George (I guess I can call him "the other George" now that he won't be around to refute it) was adding to that context. I would be curious to see, if you ever went back and re-read the book, whether your reaction to it would change.


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

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