Re: RARA-AVIS: Re: The Long Goodbye (the book, not the movie)

From: Kerry J. Schooley (
Date: 10 Aug 2007

At 05:16 PM 09/08/2007, you wrote:

>The character driven stories
>like Mildred Pierce did not sell so well as books,
>although the movie did his reputation a lot of good.

As I recall, the movie contained plot devices that were not part of the book.

>So he looked for good, complex plots and tried to
>people them with strong characters, but the story, he
>believed, needed to be there for readers and critics
>to warm to the book. I think that's an interesting

Plot reveals character. That's pretty basic insight into the narrative process, but it still gets overlooked, despite our long history with this simple code for conveying information. It extends well beyond fiction, too. Doesn't mean we don't get to play with the process, though. (Beginning, middle and end, but not necessarily in that order- you read it here first!)

In an interview I googled recently, James Sallis said his Lew Griffin series contains no plot. I disagree. Although it is sometimes vague and unfolds in non-linear ways, I believe I detected a minimalist plot arcing over the series. Perhaps somewhat perversely, I found reading the Griffin series more satisfying in terms of plot resolution than I did reading Mildred Pierce, and about on a par with Postman. Maybe Sallis meant no "deliberate" plot, and maybe I've imposed some of my own expectations on the Griffin series. That's sort of a development of Cain's point too, I think with the same certainty that I think Sallis' point might be that as humans we try to impose order in a random universe. Certainly the dialogue between writer and reader regarding plot is one of the things I enjoyed, and continue to enjoy, about Sallis' Griffin series, but I bet it costs him a lot of readers too.

But what do I know? Kerry

------------------------------------------------------ The evil men do lives after them

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