Re: RARA-AVIS: John Williams's comments

From: Ray Skirsky (
Date: 31 Jul 2002

At 09:23 AM 7/31/2002 -0700, you wrote:
>Thats cool that you took the time to write out your thoughts and
>share them, John. I found your comments interesting and insight-
>ful. I do have a few comments:
>John Williams wrote:
> > Moderately sucessful - though generally morally and artistically
>bankrupt -
> > are the burgeoning ranks of the serial killer specialists - but that's a
> > blight as well (then again I suppose serial killer novels more properly
> > belong to the horror tradition than the h/b).
>"Generally" is the keyword here when you talk about the quality of
>serial killer novels. Generally, I'll read one by an author and then I've
>had enough. But I think that _Silence of the Lambs_ was a great book.
>For me, it rattled the foundations. I like that. I thought that Ridley
>Pearson's (sp?) _Undercurrents_ was good, too.

I just finished Pearson's _Parallel Lies_ , it's my first by him. I wasn't impressed--it seemed formulaic, as if he had a movie treatment in mind. Pearson is a friend of mine's favorite author. Is this book typical of him, or did I just pick a bad one to start on?

On the topic of one serial-killer novel per author, I point out that Rex Miller's _Slob_ was scary, everything else mediocre.

>then JW says:
> > ...especially the noir-horror crossover as
> > written by the likes of Chaz Brenchley, Stephen Gallagher and Iain Banks.
>I'll be darned! Someone mentions Iain Banks! He's an interesting and
>innovative author. I liked _Feersum Endjin_ (once I got past the pho-
>netic spelling) and _The Wasp Factory_, but could have done without
>_Excession_. I'm not sure if he's hardboiled, but he definitely gets the
>noir tag.

I loved "The Crow Road," by Banks. Bought it at an English-language bookstore in New Delhi. Has it ever been published in the US? It's not hard-boiled by any means, although there's a lot of drinkin' in it :-). It does have a murder mystery, as one of dozens of plot threads. Great fun. Far better than any of his Culture novels.

>then JW says:
> > while newer writers - in the US just as the
> > UK - have to struggle to emerge from the shadows of Ellroy, Leonard et
>al -
> > and are, ironically enough, in some ways limited by the very strength and
> > popularity of the genre.
>Yeah, maybe. But its been like this for quite a while, you know. Once
>there's such a thing as a genre, you're stuck with proceeding someone
>else. Near as I can tell, the present writers are doing a darn good job
>of creating their own intimidating shadows for future writers.

Yes, but in Britian the appearance of a new PD James is always cause for celebration. And a new James Lee Burke in the US....


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