RARA-AVIS: Four for The Fifties

From: Robison Michael R CNIN ( Robison_M@crane.navy.mil)
Date: 02 Jan 2003

Thanks to Al, I've got several good Fifties books now. But before getting the ones he suggested, I had a few already on the shelf.

I read Fleming's first James Bond novel, CASINO ROYALE. I read for assorted reasons. Some books make me think, and I like that. Some books are just pure fun and I like that too. Fleming has always been in the second category for me. But CASINO ROYALE wasn't a whole lot of fun. There's very little action. Bond doesn't kick any butt or fire a shot. The plot involves him foiling a Russian agent's attempt to recoup money he's squandered.

Ed Lacy's ROOM TO SWING is a good novel. Growing up during the civil rights movement wore me out on race issues, and rereading Baldwin's FIRE NEXT TIME or even Wright's NATIVE SON isn't high on my list. But Lacy does a good job of subtly weaving race issues into ROOM TO SWING. It's well-written, the plot is good, and the characters are interesting. Evidently, Lacy is a well- established hardboiled writer. This seems a bit sur- prising. Although I don't deny his writing skills, he doesn't seem comfortable in this book with the elements of the hardboiled genre. At lunchtime I'm going to read Lachman's essay on him in MURDER OFF THE RACK.

I read Williams's RIVER GIRL about a year ago. I just finished THE HOT SPOT (HELL HATH NO FURY). Great book. Great writer. Hardboiled noir at it's best. He's got the Chandler flair for simile and metaphor. I've got DEAD CALM waiting on me, and I need to find SCORPION REEF. I hear that his sea novels are some of his best.

I read WILD WIVES. Cynical humor and irony. It was a good and entertaining book, but not as good as the spectacular BURNT ORANGE HERESY. I still haven't read a Hoke Moseley though. MIAMI HEAT sits on the shelf waiting on me.

Speaking of Willeford, can anybody tell me anything about the publishing history of a paper (thesis?) he wrote called THE IMMOBILISED MAN? I read something about a limited run of 350. I'd like to read it, but it's big-dollar at Abebooks. Has it been published under another name? Maybe Betsy can send us all com- plimentary copies. ;-)


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