RE: RARA-AVIS: How much Background?

From: C W (
Date: 13 May 2003

Regarding when and when not to use childhood backstory, surely the answer is when it elucidates the adult charaster's motivations.

Take Jim Thompson as a random example (somehow my random examples are always Jom Thompson). Wouldn't it be useful if we had some inkling as to why there is a killer inside Lou Ford? It's probably true that JT indulged a little too much in pop psychology and tracing adult depravity to incestuous/abusive childhoods, but IMHO they added flavour to his novels (and flavour to the novelist's image).

I'm now wondering what The Killer Inside Me and A Swell Looking Babe (to name but two) would be like without the backstory, of course...

Charlie Williams

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