Re: RARA-AVIS: Opinions

Date: 09 Jul 2007


"If a child tells you that the knock in your car engine is marbles bouncing around, that's an opinion. If the mechanic tells you he thinks it's a rod bearing going out, that is another opinion."

Shunryu Suzuki:

"In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert's there are few."

Sometimes I wonder if we don't lose something as we become "experts" in our genre. As we read more and more in the field, we inevitably become pickier, which is fine when we are just talking about quality of writing. But do we also start losing some of the simple enjoyment of being immersed in a story as we simultaneously analyze it in the back of our heads: Is this hardboiled? Noir? How does it relate to other books in the field? Other books by this author? How does it fit into the evolution in the field? I am still carried away by books, but it doesn't seem to happen as deeply as often.

Then again, we also pick up things a causal reader probably wouldn't, homages, parodies, intertextual references, get jokes a beginner might not. For instance, I mentioned recently how I recognized a bunch of Chandler references in Ted Lewis's Boldt, from a character named Florian to a club called the Blue Dahlia. And in re-reading Sallis's Long-Legged Fly, I picked up a passing joke I missed the first time. Lew is looking at the names on some New Orleans mailboxes and sees W. Percy and R. Queneau. I knew who Walker Percy was the first time I read it, but I had never heard of Raymond Queneau before, nor the literary movement he's associated with, Oulipo (not that I've read him, but I did recognize the name this time).

I recently read Cases by Joe Gores. I got a kick out of recognizing Dunc's alias at the beginning, Peter Collinson, as slang for "son of nobody," as the book eventually explains but also as a pseudonym of Hammett's, which isn't mentioned. However, it bugged me that Dunc was reading The Long Goodbye in the summer of 1953 when I knew it didn't come out in the US until March 1954 (and November 1953 in the UK).


This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : 09 Jul 2007 EDT