Re: RARA-AVIS: Hit Parade

From: Mark R. Harris (
Date: 27 Apr 2008

Let me just jump in here and say that Bellem's badness is his goodness, a la Harry Stephen Keeler, Michael Avallone, etc. For further illumination on this, read Bill Pronzini's Gun in Cheek and Son of Gun in Cheek.

That said, this doesn't exonerate everyone's bad prose -- only those who take it to the level of a fully achieved anti-style.


On 4/27/08, Patrick King <> wrote:
> --- jacquesdebierue <<>>
> wrote:
> > A couple of days ago I picked up a used copy of
> > Block's _Hit Parade_,
> > the third collection of Keller adventures. The
> > effect of this book was
> > disturbing: I could not possibly believe in Keller
> > _nor_ could I be
> > sure that this series of shaggy dog stories was
> > meant to be understood
> > as shaggydoggy. The style suggests the latter, but
> > not completely. In
> > sum, an impeccably written book that never came into
> > focus. The
> > insistence on the theme of stamp collecting ended up
> > annoying me, but
> > that is a minor matter. In the end, I felt like
> > writing a Keller story
> > with real people in it. I even thought of a couple
> > of things to do to
> > Dot, Keller's patient and amiable partner (a total
> > cipher, like
> > Keller), just to rattle her.
> *****************************************************
> A few weeks ago you were waxing poetic about the style
> of Robert Leslie Bellem, so I ordered his novel, BLUE
> MURDER, from amazon. I've gotta say this may have been
> the worst book I've ever read. About half way through
> I started to wonder if Robert Leslie Bellem was
> actually Lesley Bellem. It really felt like a woman
> parodying tough it was so over-the-top. The
> detective's name is Duke Pizzatello and every woman in
> the book is smarter than he is like the master is
> smarter than the dog. The plot is all over the block.
> The motivation for any character to do anything is
> impossible to guess. When the DA gave Pizzatello the
> opportunity to spring a trap on a murderer that may be
> completely dreamed up by Pizzatello who is the most
> likely suspect... I mean, why would he do that? I'd
> heard of Bellem before but never read him. I doubt I
> will again. What do you like about this writer?
> Patrick King
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Mark R. Harris
2122 W. Russet Court #8
Appleton WI 54914
(920) 470-9855

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