RARA-AVIS: Re: _New Yorker_ article on crime fiction around the world

From: crimeflix ( jmks100@aol.com)
Date: 04 Apr 2007

Jay, thanks for mentioning this, I saw this as well. The thing that struck me is that, despite how sure of himself James is about the merits of "mystery writing" versus literature, going by the examples he gives, he is remarkably unread in the genre. He cites some excellent writers, but it's a very narrow list, and I think in the end it's silly and, well, ignorant for someone who hasn't read the books to decide what's serious and what isn't. If he said, he read 100 mystery, crime, noir etc novels over the past year and came to the conclusion that mystery novels shouldn't be taken seriously that would be one thing. But it seems like he's read about five books. Too bad for him, I guess. J

--- In rara-avis-l@yahoogroups.com, Jay Gertzman <jgertzma@...> wrote:
> "Blood on the Borders" by a patronizing Clive James (9 April issue)
> describes mystery writing as a genre that is fun and easy to read--
> of course, to be taken as "serious writing" (like the most
> genre of all time, the New Yorker short story??). He quotes
> "down these mean streets a man must go..." as making you "want to
> on." But the statement was from an essay not a novel. Simenon was a
> great model for those who give the crime novel "its aspiration to
> seriousness." Which of course it does not deserve. But those who
do not
> use PI's like Maigret, sez James, cannot write enough books to get
> consideration (by critics like James) as artists. James does not
seem to
> know of Simenon's "roman durs," but he has read plenty of Donna
> Brunetti novels, because his younger daughter likes the writer.
> nice of him to get down to her level. The rest of the article deals
> how the genre can be good as a kind of travelogue (based on the
> favored by the writers). Rankin's Edinburgh is a better setting
> Glasgow; it looks better although Glasgow is tougher. Quoting a few
> phrases from recent writers he thinks he is sensitive enough to
> as silly, snotty Clive sniffs, "those are the kind of moments that
> real writers wonder if they shouldn't go into the crime-fiction
> and run up a score."
> He's just too witty to be anything but precious, is Clive
James, a
> dilettante in at least 4 genres: poetry, essay, fiction, and
> non-fiction. You just /must/ have heard of him.

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