RARA-AVIS: The Homesick Buick

From: Mario Taboada ( matrxtech@yahoo.com)
Date: 06 Aug 2002

They say the devil knows you're dead, and he knows it right away. And if you have doubts about John D., he pays you a visit.

Last night, after a hot and humid day that continued into the late hours, I went to the library looking for something quick to read. I brought down an old volume called _The Delights of Detection_, edited by Jacques Barzun.

After reading the introduction, the intelligent rant of a partisan about detection versus crime fiction, I glued on to _The Homesick Buick_ by our man John D. I don't remember reading this story before. It is one of the author's best, and the funniest one I know. It tells the story of a perfectly executed bank heist in a small town. Here's MacDonald's irony in the first paragraph:

"To get to Leeman, Texas, you go southwest from Beaumont on Route 90 for approximately thirty miles and then turn right on a two-lane concrete farm road. Five minutes from the time you turn, you will reach Leeman. The main part of town is six lanes wide and five blocks long. If the hand of a careless giant should remove the six gas stations, the two theaters, Willows's Hardware Store, the Leeman National Bank,the two big air-conditioned five-and-dimes, the Sears store, four caf鳬 Rightsinger's dress shop, and The Leeman House, a twenty-room hotel, there would be very little left except the supermarket and four assorted drugstores."

Barzun has a narrow view of crime literature; he obviously prefers Sherlock Holmes to Hoke Mosely and the clean detection tale to the dirty doings of real criminals. Yet he picked this gem of a story with a gem of a title and for that, I thank him.

If ever rara-avis puts out or organizes a short-story anthology, this will be my proposed entry.

Best regards,


"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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