RARA-AVIS: Re: Newsweek names "Fifty Books of Our Times"

From: jacquesdebierue (jacquesdebierue@yahoo.com)
Date: 12 Jul 2009

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    --- In rara-avis-l@yahoogroups.com, Kevin Burton Smith <kvnsmith@...> wrote:
    > The Professor wrote:
    > > I think P.D.James and Dashiell Hammett are worlds apart.
    > Which is what I said. I even used the phrase "worlds apart." I don't
    > think you'll find anyone here seriously arguing that they're exactly
    > the same. But my point was that someone who may have enjoyed Hammett
    > might have also enjoyed James' quite different stab at the same sort
    > of scenario. Particularly for those possessing a bit of intellectual
    > curiosity.

    Well, people can read any book or combination of authors... But the world of Hammett and the world of James are not, at least a priori, likely to attract the same readers -- or more precisely, to both make fans out of readers.

    > > I also think Hammett was the better writer by several orders of
    > > magnitude. The kind of polite prose the P.D.James is admired for
    > > does very little for me. ... I frankly don't understand the
    > > politeness thing when everything else in society has moved towards
    > > savagery, disorder and rule-bending.
    > You really need to start hanging out with grown ups, Mario. Get out of
    > the bunker and take a walk.

    I don't live in a bunker. Quite the contrary. And I have eyes and ears. The politeness I was referring to is the writer's, James's, not the politeness of people.

    > Some Americans are, in fact, quite civilized. And prefer it that way.
    > They're not all violent, anti-intellectual louts. As fun as it may be
    > to read (and write) about such characters, most Americans (and even
    > this Canadian) take such stuff with a grain of salt.

    I didn't say anything about anti-intellectual louts. I was alluding to how society functions, what goes on, how power is exercised, corruption, etc.

    > Why, a large majority of Americans who bothered to vote even recently
    > opted for a president who can read.
    > And many Americans actually still say "please" and "thank you." Why,
    > just yesterday some customers said it at the store. I heard them.
    > Although, come to think of it, they might have just been visiting
    > Canadians.

    I don't know what to say, this is a very broad brush. The internal carpentry of a society and the degree and form of politeness are two very different things.

    > "I've said my piece; now it's off-topic"?

    No, I just meant that James does not write hardboiled or noir literature. The comparison of James with Hammett is certainly not off-topic but the work of James would be. Not that I have any intention of censoring it, but it's not our focus here.



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