Re: RARA-AVIS: When the Sacred Ginmill Closes

From: Nathan Cain (
Date: 12 Nov 2007

The amount of drinking in the book was truly amazing. Reading about all the boozing and barhopping got kind of old. I think it was Curt who mentioned all the AA stuff in A Ticket to the Boneyard, and said it was tiresome. Well, in my experience, sober alcoholics in AA can be pretty obsessive about the whole thing. They replace their obsession with drinking with their obsession with meetings in church basements, so I think Block is just being true to Scudder's character when he includes that stuff in the story. God knows there's a lot of drinking that goes on in PI novels, but it's often just there as window dressing to make the story seem hard boiled and the characters seem tough. I think Block's depiction of Scudder might be the most realistic depiction of an alcoholic in crime fiction.

On Nov 12, 2007 9:49 PM, Stephen Burridge <> wrote:
> I just read this one last week myself. It was my third Scudder novel,
> after "Hope To Die" and "A Dance At The Slaughterhouse", and I think
> the best of the three. I kind of liked the treatment of the drinking.
> These guys are heroically hard drinkers, but it obviously isn't
> sustainable, and they screw up in various large and small ways. I
> don't know where this story fits into the narrative of Scudder's
> eventual decision to get sober, but there seem to be signs that things
> are getting out of control. And I thought the retrospective
> narration, '70s as recalled from the '80s, was very well done, and
> interesting to read in 2007. It also allowed quite naturally for the
> "what happened to the characters afterwards" sort of coda at the end.
> If/when I read another of these novels, it will probably be one of the
> earlier ones. I think the flawed, drinking Scudder makes an
> interesting protagonist.

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