Re: RARA-AVIS: Re: Capturing Cooperman

Date: 11 Jul 2008

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    Saul Rubinek, who was relatively young at the time. I suspect he'd catch more of Cooperman's shrewdness now. Or perhaps the CBC would produce a script that allowed him to.

    Grantham is a border town, close to Niagara Falls, so there is ample opportunity for carrying on. I too think Engel catches the smugness of Ontarians, which glosses more than enough mayhem for a series of crime novels.

    Thanks Susan, Kerry

      ----- Original Message -----
      From: Susan Evans Shaw
      Sent: Thursday, July 10, 2008 10:05 PM
      Subject: RE: RARA-AVIS: Re: Capturing Cooperman

      Perhaps we could call Benny a bit soft-boiled! However not to do him an
      injustice, as you say he stays the course and in spite of his apparent
      conservatism (the small "c" variety) shows remarkable courage - "guts" might
      be the more appropriate noir term.

      That's why I cannot remember the name of the actor who played Cooperman - a
      sleudian frip you might say. He made Cooperman into a buffoon which I found
      infuriating. Cooperman may appear timid and a homebody but he also
      intelligent and shrewd. He knows his community well, a little like
      Christie's Miss Marple minus the knitting. He deals with some pretty
      unpleasant characters that inhabit the underbody of Grantham and in the end
      gets his man or woman as the case may be. That's what could qualify the
      Cooperman novels as noir. All is not as it seems on the surface. In the
      spirit of Ross Macdonald, Engel's respectable families have a dark past,
      coloured by elements of greed, larceny and murder. Cooperman's homely habits
      like chopped egg sandwiches and Friday night dinner with his parents make an
      excellent counterpoint to the lives of his clients and their associates.

      That's my take.


      -----Original Message-----
      From: [] On
      Behalf Of
      Sent: July 10, 2008 1:06 PM
      Subject: Re: RARA-AVIS: Re: Capturing Cooperman

      Would you say, Susan, that Engel's output is hard boiled or noir? Engle
      created Cooperman as a sort of Canadian alternative to American hard boiled
      detectives like Spade and Marlowe. Cooperman works a city small enough for
      everyone to know all the major players, if they are so inclined. He's
      unmarried, more because he's the type women want to take under-wing than
      because he's too hard-nosed. He still goes home for mom's cooking once a

      On the other hand, while Cooperman frequently flinches at putting himself in
      danger, he still does so. He resists both parental and would-be paramours'
      attempts to change him, remaining pretty much the "lone wolf" cliche. He has
      a workable relationship with local cops, but usually due to the forebearance
      of a high-school buddy. If there's a moral code, it's more or less the
      familiar form that doesn't get, or stand up to, too much scrutiny, and hence
      there's a bit of world-weariness when confronted by the things people do.

      He's an average schmo like the rest of us, but more inclined to stay the
      course when confronted by situations that might cause the rest of us to turn
      away, but then that's because it's his job. Most of us stay the course for
      the sake of a job, when we might otherwise turn away. We rationalize that
      the money allows us to maintain our independence, just as I think I recall
      Cooperman doing on occasion. You might call Engel's Cooperman series an
      unflinching look at the gritty experience of average mediocrity, if you want
      to get really dark and humourous, about it.

      But that's just my take. I'm curious to hear what you think.


      ----- Original Message -----
      From: Susan Evans Shaw
      To: rara-avis-l@ <>
      Sent: Thursday, July 10, 2008 9:37 AM
      Subject: RE: RARA-AVIS: Re: Capturing Cooperman

      The show was interesting but spoiled by ads - at one point there were three
      interruptions in less than 10 minutes. Bravo! used to be more
      commercial-free. Complaints aside, there is extensive footage of Howard
      Engel at his computer, walking around Toronto and in the Cooperman sites in
      St. Catharines. They also used clips from the two films based on his books.
      Interviews included Margaret Cannon, the Globe and Mail mystery reviewer,
      Peter Robinson, Eric Wright, Engel's daughter Charlotte and several others.
      There was quite a bit at the beginning about his first marriage to writer
      Marion Engel. Much emphasis was placed on the tragedies in his life - his
      second wife died of brain cancer. Then there was the stroke and his
      remarkable recovery. All in all, I'd say the film is worth watching for.



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