Re: RARA-AVIS: Question about Ross MacDonald's works

Date: 13 Mar 2007


Your point about Archer not really being personally involved in his own books raises an interesting point of comparison between MacDonald's Archer and non-Archer books. I finished "The Ferguson Affair" not too long ago and the main character, William Gunnarson, was very much personally invested in the outcome of the story. MacDonald actually delved quite a bit into Gunnarson's personal life, including his marriage and impending fatherhood. Although I mentioned in my previous e-mail that MacDonald's non-Archer books are in alot of ways similar to his Archer stories, here is at least one point of notable departure.

Not having done a lot of reading on MacDonald himself (his biography by Tom Nolan is sitting on my to read shelf at the moment) I would be curious if anyone has any thoughts as to what may have motivated MacDonald to make this particular change.

Cheers, Harry


> "Should I read Ross MacDonald's "Lew Archer" cases in sequence, just
> like Lawrence Block's "Matthew Scudder"? Do the personality of character
> varies as time goes on?"
> There really isn't much "personality of character" in the Lew Archer
> books. This isn't meant as a criticism. In fact, that's one of the
> things I find so fascinating about this series, how Archer is kind of
> absent from his own books, observing and solving without revealing much
> of himself.
> Now I'm anal about reading series in order, and I went back and did this
> with the Archer novels at one point. However, although he has periods,
> there's not much interdependence or plot development between the
> inidividual books. And I'd agree with Brian on the books he listed as
> Macdonald's best period.
> Makes me think. Isn't this idea of series having a structure and plot
> beyond a single entry kind of new, just a few decades old? Yes, there
> are slight changes over time with Wade Miller's Max Thursday or Meyer
> may hae to get anew book at one point in the Travis McGee series, but I
> really can't think of older series that seem to plot in arcs. About the
> first I can think of is Stark's Parker series, whose first four books
> seem to have been plotted as one, which is kind of strange since the
> first was definitely written as a standalone, with the ending havng to
> be changed to accomodate a series.
> Oh, and of course, there are the 57th Precinct novels. Was it the first
> to do this seriously?
> Mark

This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : 13 Mar 2007 EDT