RARA-AVIS: Writers who have "disappeared" from the public eye

From: Jeff Vorzimmer ( jvorzimmer@austin.rr.com)
Date: 04 May 2008

> ***April 2008: Writers who have "disappeared" from the public eye, either
> because they stopped
> publishing or because their work is unavailable.

Are we still doing this theme?

I've been trying to get back to Lion Books that I'd overlooked in the past, so I read The Peddler (in a HCC reprint), Sleep with the Devil, Sin Pit and Brotherhood of Velvet over the last couple months. The last two titles belong to writers who definitely fall into this category, Paul Meskil and David Karp. In the case of Paul Meskil, it's likely due to the fact that he only published the one novel. But I can't understand the neglect of Karp. He has definitey disappeared.

In Hardboiled America, O'Brien mentions Karp as "curiously overlooked" and in George's Noir Fiction, he says that a strong argument can be made for Karp as being the best writer in the Lion stable, even over Jim Thompson. I wouldn't go quite that far. Thompson and Goodis were at the top of the heap there and both of them went on to Fawcett, while Karp was able to break into the hardcover market. Though I think that the former two, having been refugees from that market to begin with, thought they could make a better living with PBOs.

I read Karp's Brotherhood of Velvet, which has mentioned as his best. It was well-written with an interesting premise, the familiar theme of the secret organization that has people in key government positions and thoroughly controls lives of those who belong. But it starts to slowly fizzle out about half way through. It's almost as if he didn't know how to end it properly. What I see as the problems of the novel I suspect stem from the fact that Karp obviously didn't see himself as a crime writer with the need for suspenseful moments and actual crime. What actual crime exists in the novel is hearsay with the exception of the actual beating he takes supposedly at the hands of the Brotherhood.

Hey, I might have answered my own question as to why he's been overlooked.


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