RE: RARA-AVIS: An opinion of John D. MacDonald

From: Mario Taboada (
Date: 07 Aug 2002

<<It happened to the best of them. Catherine and Frederick's cute little love talk in Hemingway's A FAREWELL TO ARMS is enough to gag even a Danielle Steele reader. Robert Jordan and his "rabbit" in FOR WHOM THE BELL TOLLS weren't much better.>>

Indeed, Hemingway's love scenes are awkward, even more awkward than D.H. Lawrence's. On the other hand, much inferior writer like James T. Farrell (but a great short story writer and master of slang) could write credible love scenes. So could Erskine Caldwell, another tough writer of the Depression whose short stories I like to dip into occasionally. They are collected and published by the University of Georgia Press. It's a thick volume with a high proportion of memorable tales.

One of Walter Mosley's many strengths is that he can describe the heat as well as the affection between two people without embarrassing himself or sending the reader to the next chapter. I especially recall several exemplary scenes in the Socrates Fortlow books, and one scene with Easy Rawlins in _A Little Yellow Dog_. It took place on a school table.

Lastly (the dressing on the salad), Charles Williams handled love much better than John D. This Goldmedathon should make Williams several new readers. He is one of the most underrated of the goldmedalists.



"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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