RARA-AVIS: Re: What are you reading - and Introduction

From: Richard Moore ( moorich@aol.com)
Date: 26 Sep 2007

I don't have my copy of RIVERTOWN RISK to refresh my memory of the use by Joe Hensley of "the party" without referencing which party or another party. There are, indeed, states that are dominated by one party. More commonly, there are towns and regions politically in the control of one party. The amount of actual power held by a political party in a state varies widely. In some places, it rules much of the roost. In other places, it is where successful politicians park staff who are too connected to be fired and too incompetent to keep on their personal staff.

Joe lived most of his adult life in Madison, Indiana on the Ohio River. I have no idea what party he belonged to as it never came up in my conversations with him and has not been mentioned in the obituaries I read.

Prior to becoming a judge, he served one term in the state legislature and that served the basis of his novel LEGISLATIVE BODY
(Doubleday 1972). In that book he rather neatly avoids party labels by referring to the Majority Leader and Minority Leader and etc. I can guess why he would do this. To label his freshman legislator a Republican or Democrat could transplant from many readers a host of assumptions that had nothing to do with the story he was telling.

In the novel there are student demonstrators outside the state capitol and Robak is clearly sympathetic to them: "They were my kids, my constituents." The main character and his attitudes are there for the reader without the shorthand of a label that could distance the reader.

Richard Moore

--- In rara-avis-l@yahoogroups.com, Raymond Tait <raymond.tait@...> wrote:
> I joined this group about seven months ago and have been lurking
> silently and enjoying the digests since then.
> A couple of weeks ago I followed up some discussion and read
> Risk by Joe L Hensley and then Framed in Guilt by Day Keene
followed by
> Shake Him Till He Rattles by Malcolm Braly. The first was
prompted by
> the notice of his death that came via Harlan Ellison. I enjoyed
it - it
> is a murder mystery with a small town political corruption as its
> thematic backdrop. One of the minor characters is George Jones
who is
> known as "Half a Man" because he was born with only one leg and
arm. He
> is a reader of books and it is noted that "he's a completist on
> Ellison." All through the book there is endless stuff about "the
> which I assumed to be the republican party although it is never
> There is no mention of another party giving it a flavour of the
> party state - you could have been reading about the communist
> Was I reading this right and are there parts of the USA where it
> virtually a one party state? I also wasn't sure where the book
was set
> - where was Joe L Hensley from?

This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : 26 Sep 2007 EDT