Re: RARA-AVIS: Marijane Meaker and Patricia Highsmith (and SMILLA'S Senselessness, sadly)

From: Michael Robison (
Date: 02 Sep 2003

Todd Mason wrote:
> Which leaves open the question of when the sales on GM books started to
> slacken, and when GM stopped paying royalties on every printed item rather
> than each sold, like most publishers.

********** I'm not sure about that, but both Meaker and Charles Williams bailed at about the same time, within a few years of 1960. Williams bailed because he wanted to write hardcovers, plus he was being pressured into writing series Gold Medals, which he wanted no part of.

> As for publishing class distinctions...well, even today ignoramuses can't
> keep the definition of "pulp fiction" straight, and while it's now
> acceptable slumming material, the nature of the packaging (all the GM
> seminudes, etc.) ensured the ignorant could feel comfortable in
> their sneer

************* Well, I'll have to admit that I don't exactly know what pulp fiction is either. Strictly speaking, it's a certain style of literature found in cheap magazines inbetween the two World Wars, but I notice it also being used for modern day stuff that's written in a similar style.

> Mike--I didn't get very far with SMILLA'S SENSE OF SNOW, the novel in
> translation in English, but I didn't try very hard, since it seemed the
> of thing the blockheads mentioned above clutch to their breasts as clearly
> superior to the kind of tawdry trash Anglophone cf writers churn out, but
> did see the movie, with the protagonist's ancestry now made improbable at
> best by the choice of lead actress, and the protag's ability to walk over
> several hundred miles of arctic icecap without once putting up the hood on
> her parka (would muss her hair, doncha know), and the ridiculous
> science-fictional developements in the last third of the film...I cannot
> recommend it, sorry to disagree so strenuously, but it Annoyed me. A lot.

************* I noticed the items you mentioned, but they didn't bother me much. I thought Smilla was a spectacular character, I really liked watching her relating to the other characters and I thought the dialogue was great. It was refreshing to see such a hardboiled female character in such an unusual setting.


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