RARA-AVIS: Dead Writers, Ghosts Writers and Segregated Writers

From: Kevin Burton Smith (kvnsmith@sbcglobal.net)
Date: 28 Feb 2009

  • Next message: Mark D. Nevins: "RARA-AVIS: "The Canon"?"

    Mario wrote:

    > I'm sure that Gores was aware of the dangers inherent in this type of
    > assignment. I haven't read it yet but plan to do so. It's a tough
    > thing to do and you will be damned if you imitate too much and damned
    > if you use a little freedom...

    As Lawrence Block (William Irish), Robert Goldsborough (Rex Stout), Robert Parker (Raymond Chandler) and a slew of others have found out, when picking up the trail of dead writers.

    I feel particularly sorry, in a way, for Parker, because the typical expected backlash was complicated by the fact that a lot of his contemporaries already resented his sudden success. And by the fact that even if Chandler himself had lived to complete POODLE SPRINGS, the purists -- then and probably now -- would have hated it.

    As for PERCHANCE TO DREAM, Parker's second "Marlowe" novel, that wasn't quite as successful, but as a short story it would have fit quite easily, quality-wise, into that Chandler Centennial collection, not as good as some of the stories and not as weak as some of the others.

    More from Mario:

    > The case of the late lamented John
    > Updike, a gentle soul and a magnificent technician. My secret wish was
    > that Updike would one day let it rip and go Quixotic.

    Me too. He's one of the few writers I wish had drank more. It would have been neat to see Updike tie one on, hole up in a cheap motel and pound out a crime story. Of course, Updike being Updike, it would be all proper and procedural, but almost every page or so would feature a phrase or sentence that would just nail the situation.

    When he died, I came across a blog about his (numerous) letters to newspapers over the years. Even when he was ranting about the comic pages dropping SPIDER-MAN or the new layout of the baseball box scores, he was always a precise and subtle writer, his wit as gentle and sharp as an icepick.

    As for all that rattling around in the ivory towers about Bloom, I didn't even know Orlando could read. But books are separated
    (segregated) into various categories because that's the way real, living readers like it. I work in a bookstore and can tell you that people get plenty rattled when a genre writer they know and love gets moved to simply FICTION/LITERATURE.

    We should remember that all those crime novels that regularly make the bestseller lists are there not because of a few hundred loudmouth would-be eggheads like us, but because of the thousands or even millions of readers who wouldn't be caught dead on a list like this, and probably think we're all a bunch of egocentric academic pinheads, prone to turning up our noses at anything TOO popular. Those mainstream readers are the people who actually buy the books, and make a book a bestseller, and they'd be pretty pissed off to find Kafka, Jim Thompson, Jules Verne, Stephenie Meyer and James Patterson all lumped together in the same section.

    Kevin Burton Smith Thrilling Detective Web Site
    "It's Been a Long Time Coming" Edition Now Online

    [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]

    This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : 28 Feb 2009 EST