Re: RARA-AVIS: First Joe Gores novel

From: Mario Taboada (
Date: 29 Jul 2002

Both Predators and Dead Man are worth reading. I wonder if Predators is based on a real case. It certainly sounds realistic. As Jim has said, the transformation of the character from a peaceful professor into a relentless pursuer is remarkable and remarkably well done.

As to overwrought, it was Gore's first published novel and I suppose he had to show his chops. The late sixties was not the best time to publish crime novels. The genre was moribund. I also agree with Mark that Gores has developed from a fine writer into a classic. Another crime writer commented that from a Gores novel you could make up a course in good writing. I think this is true. The Twain-Hemingway-Hammett (THH) tradition is going strong.

Since this post is a salad, I would like to comment on Westlake's remark on the excesses of Chandler's style. I doubt that Westlake wants to attack Chandler or his legend. But Westlake comes straight from the THH tradition (with some Wodehouse added) and has perfected a technique that is diametrically opposite to Chandler's.

If I were to teach someone to write crime fiction
(something far-fetched, but let's assume it), I would specifically tell them not to try to write like Chandler. It's already been done and it's dangerous. The Chandler technique is not transferable without degradation. On the other hand, THH is portable and available to anyone who has a story to tell.

By the way, spurred by the discussion of Manuel's finds at the library sale, I went and reread _Hand Upon the Waters_, a chilling story in which Faulkner writes fluently in the THH style. He could do it.



"The skill of man is unequal to the formation of a new man from old materials, but the battered tenement may, with care, be long sustained by props" -- From Becklard's Physiology.

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