RARA-AVIS: Knee-jerk Name-Dropping

From: Kevin Burton Smith ( kvnsmith@sbcglobal.net)
Date: 06 Jun 2008

On Jun 5, 2008, at 5:09 PM, rara-avis-l@yahoogroups.com wrote: Juri wrote:

> I haven't read either of those books, though. I still believe the
> reviewer
> of Dave's book was only thinking: "Didn't those guys, um, Chandler and
> Hammett write in the thirties and the fourties, and weren't there some
> movies, I mean film noir, okay, then I'll compare this to those
> things or
> whatever."

Knee-jerk name-dropping is usually a sign of lazy criticism -- you can spot it a mile away. My guess is that most of these "critics" have never even read the books or authors they cite. And some of the comparisons are truly jaw-dropping. Naturally, the similarities are never actually explained -- the mere dropping of a familiar name is supposed to suffice. Or the reasoning is so twisted and lacking in any commonly accepted knowledge that it calls into question the entire review. Some might call it a mental illness; I just call it stupidity.

Spenser compared to James Bond, Kinsey Millhone to Mike Hammer, Amos Walker to Nero Wolfe? What were these guys smoking?

A case might be made for any of these, I suppose, but they sure weren't made in the places the comparisons were made.

Cheer up, Dave. At least they left out Nancy Drew and the Bobbsey Twins.

Kevin Burton Smith www.thrillingdetective.com

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