Re: RARA-AVIS: Language and storytelling

From: terry bowman (
Date: 23 Nov 2007

Michael Connelly, an all time favorite of mine. I met him at the Killer Nashville mystery writers conference this past August, where he was the guest of honor. On eof the things that he talked about during his keynote interview was how he likes to trickle out information during the course of a book. He cited a scene from THE_BLACK_ICE where Bosch sees a firefighting helicopter and it brings him back to Viet Nam, it's one paragraph in the book, but it's another layer in the Bosch character. But Bosch's character is usually the only one that usually gets built upon.

I've just started reading McCarthy. I started with THE_ROAD because of the Pulitzer Prize buzz, which is strange, because I NEVER do that. Shamus or Edgar, maybe, but not Pulitzer. I think that helped me when it came to NO_COUNTRY_FOR_OLD_MEN because it acclimated me to the unique prosaic style. The Coen Bros. did a wonderful job with that movie. It could have easily come off as a slasher (well, shoot em up) flick, but every scene was beautifully shot and spot on with the book. I would hate to see what Tarantino or Rodriguez would do to it.

Bruen's prose reminds me of McCarthy's. I've long toyed with experimental style in my own works, so I don't find either off-putting in that regard. I think maybe it's the hyper-short chapters (Bruen), as opposed to the dearth of punctuation (McCarthy), that makes him a quick and easy read. I read THE_KILLING_OF_THE_TINKERS and THE_DRAMATIST in one 24 hour period. THE_DRAMATIST had the saddest ending of a book I've read in a long time. But that's a discussion for another day.

In regards to Chuck Palahniuk, I've only been able to get through FIGHT_CLUB. I've tried CHOKE and SURVIVOR but it's a fight I can't win.

I've been off of Elmore Leonard for a few years. When I was younger I gobbled everything he'd written, but now I'm four or five books behind.

James Lee Burke is another who builds tension nicely. Dave Robicheaux is edgy and almost unlikable at some points, his own worst enemy, you might say (what new-fangled hard-boiled character isn't?). But the prose and description are beautiful. His Clete Purcel is the Cajun cousin of Block's Mick Ballou character.

The list goes on and on...

--- In, "jacquesdebierue"
<jacquesdebierue@...> wrote:
> --- In, Patrick King <abrasax93@> wrote:
> >
> >
> > --- terry bowman <foolesgold@> wrote:
> > > For me, this is the essence of suspense. Who is the
> > > best current
> > > writer in this regard? Who spins out the best web of
> > > suspense this
> > > side of Spiderman?
> > ******************************************************
> > Elmore Leonard. He may be the best who's ever lived.
> >
> I think that for suspense, Michael Connelly has to rank very high, and
> not just among his contemporaries. Here's a guy who, from his first
> book, seems to have all the technical tricks under his belt, including
> how to create unbearable suspense. I don't rank him as high in other
> aspects (characterization, for example), but for suspense, he's just
> plain great. I am not saying that suspense is the most important
> ingredient for a great hardboiled or noir novel, but it's a necessary
> ingredient... or else ZZZZZZZZ.
> Best,
> mrt

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