Date: 29 Nov 2004

I've just started reading "The Goodbye Look" and I'm really enjoying it, but I do find it slightly dated in some ways, but overall it seems to be holding up rather well.

Harry Lerner

Quoting "James R. Winter" <>:

> It's no secret Ross MacDonald was copping Chandler in his first five
> novels. It's
> also no secret that Ross was sometimes better at it than Chandler.
> seldom matched up
> to that point. And yet we also know in what direction RM was heading.
> THE DOOMSTERS and THE GALTON CASE are considered to be MacDonald's
> break from the
> Chandler tradition, but after reading THE IVORY GRIN (aka MARKED FOR
> MURDER) this
> weekend, I firmly believe the change began much earlier.
> THE IVORY GRIN uses several established cliches. A mysterious woman
> hires Lew Archer
> to find a missing servant who's absconded with some jewelry. Add in
> a missing wealthy
> heir, the mob, a sleazy competing private eye, and one femme fatale,
> and you have
> the basic formula for your average pulp novel. But Ross MacDonald is
> not your average
> pulp writer. He takes these standard stock characters, throws them
> in the blender,
> and hits frappe to come up with an early prototype of the classic
> Ross MacDonald
> novel.
> About 50 pages into THE IVORY GRIN, we've gone from finding the
> missing servant
> to young black girl on the run in 1950's rural California to the
> search for a missing
> son. As with THE MOVING TARGET and THE DROWNING POOL, it's really
> about family
> secrets. And now, Lew Archer is starting to detach from the people
> he's investigating,
> a rogue element that either brings things into focus or knocks down
> the house of
> cards, depending on who you are in the story.
> MacDonald's real strength here is characterization. On the surface,
> this is a so-so
> detective novel with a stock plot. But you understand what moves and
> motivates
> everyone involved. MacDonald is keenly aware of personality types
> and nails each
> and every one. Max Heiss, the competing unlicensed PI after nothing
> more than a
> fast buck and maybe a quick lay, is especially vivid. This guy's a
> scum bag, but
> he has no clue because his entire worldview revolves around the next
> payoff. It
> doesn't even occur to him that losing his license should have knocked
> him out of
> the game.
> THE IVORY GRIN is not the best Lew Archer story, but it's a damn
> sight better than
> a lot of contemporary books written. Not quite FAREWELL, MY LOVELY
> FALCON, but very good writing and a peak at how one of the masters
> evolved.
> Tune in tomorrow when I dish on Spillane's VENGEANCE IS MINE (or VIM,
> if you're into abbreviating it. So far, I'm liking it a lot.)
> Jim Winter
> RARA-AVIS home page:
> Yahoo! Groups Links

Harry Lerner PhD Candidate Department of Anthropology McGill University Montreal, Quebec Canada

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This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : 29 Nov 2004 EST