Re: RARA-AVIS: Watcha readin'?

From: Richard Moore (
Date: 18 Feb 2006

--- In, Doug Bassett <dj_bassett@...> wrote:
> THE EIGHTH CIRCLE by Stanley Ellin: Well-written, but
> further evidence to me that "realism" is a literary
> method. Here Ellin's "realism" is mainly a lot of
> pop-psych of the day. And while it may well be true
> that PI work, when successful, takes a spiritual toll
> on it's practioners, that just seems nowadays like a
> literary device after Wambaugh, etc.
Certainly realism is a literary method, or what various critics label "realism" in the various eras. It's been quite a few years since I read Ellin's novel, and my memory may be faded a bit, but I certainly don't recall it as a novel of "realism" even in those pre- Wambaugh days of 1958.

I'm reading an even older PI novel THE RED RODS (1946) by Dale Clark, who lived near enough at the time to Chandler for Ray to comment negatively on his tennis style. I picked it up because Anthony Boucher praised it in one of the San Francisco newspaper columns. He reminds me of Howard Browne in his early John Evans/Paul Pine novels.

Here's a short sample:

"He was a sawed-off, five-foot-four corpse with dirty fingernails and a shirt he had changed Wednesday. He had blood drying on his lip and in his big ears. He was clinical details now."

Clark started in the pulps in the 1930s including a fair number of stories in Black Mask. He clearly read his contemporary Chandler closely but then so have we all in the decades since. I always skipped Clark because his two Ace doubles didn't look that interesting but reading Boucher's praise of Clark's early hardback novels in the 1940s convinced me to give him a look.

Richard Moore

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This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : 18 Feb 2006 EST