Re: RARA-AVIS: Re: Who don't you like?

From: Brian Thornton (
Date: 02 Jul 2006

Mark wrote:

>So you only have a problem with Cold Six Thousand? The rest of his
>novels are over a decade old. I'm kidding, of course, since much of his
>mainstream acclaim has come in that time frame.

Good one! Let me make that "two decades," then.

>In fact, it started at almost exactly the same point I started being fed up with him. American
>Tabloid embodied and exaggerated everything that had come to bother me
>about him, particularly the overwriting, the sloppiness with period --
>if you're going to write historicals, do your research, check for
>anachronisms -- and the homophobia and racism that increasingly seemed
>to be the author's not the characters'.

This is very insightful. I'd felt it, but couldn't articulate it, so I left it alone. Having read it, I whole-heartedly agree with it.

>"But that's what it was like then" does not fly for me when every character seems to hold the exact
>same bigotries -- it's either bad characterization or more sloppy history.

Or both.

>I really liked his early books when I read them -- his depiction of the
>varying degrees of corruption, with no one completely clean, added
>shades of grey to an increasingly black or white hardboiled world;
>unfortunately, like everything else in his writing, it eventually became
>mere schtick -- but I haven't reread any of them, and doubt I will.

I liked "Brown's Requiem" for the reasons you list above. As for schtick, I reference every interior monologue of the main character in "White Jazz," the corrupt junkie (? can't recall if he actually was one, it's been so long) cop with the incestuous thoughts toward his sister, or all of the things running through Jack Vincennes' mind in "L.A. Confidential." That "go down, go deep" mantra really got old quickly for me.

>Brian, you've expressed your dislike of Pelecanos numerous times before,
>which is fine (I've expressed my opinion of Ellroy a number of times),
>but I have one question -- you have mentioned quite a few of his titles
>in making your case, but why do you keep reading him if he bothers you
>so much? I have no interest at all in reading Ellroy's Cold Six
>Thousand to see if it confirms my antipathy for American Tabloid.

I have? I think I only referenced "Right As Rain." To my recollection, I have only read that one and (on the advice of a friend who thought I might like a different Pelecanos after I told him that I didn't like "Right As Rain") "King Suckerman." Didn't like it, either. After two strikes, you're pretty much out for me, reader-wise.

Let me finish by saying that I am only talking about whether or not I liked these writers, not whether or not they're good people, fine human beings, or successful writers. Obviously, taste is relative, and I like stuff that other people with impeccable taste would dislike.

Your Mileage May Vary-


[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]

------------------------ Yahoo! Groups Sponsor --------------------~--> Something is new at Yahoo! Groups. Check out the enhanced email design.

RARA-AVIS home page:
  Yahoo! Groups Links

<*> To visit your group on the web, go to:

<*> To unsubscribe from this group, send an email to:

<*> Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to:

This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : 02 Jul 2006 EDT