Re: RARA-AVIS: Re: John D.

From: J.C. Hocking (
Date: 17 Oct 2009

  • Next message: James Michael Rogers: "Re: RARA-AVIS: Re: John D."

    "Some people don't like characters to have opinions; other people just don't like characters to have opinions they don't share."

    While that's true as far as it goes, I find McGee's pontifications annoying even when I agree with them. First off, they stop the story cold. John D's storytelling will be powering along, often showing that almost supernatural narrative drive the best of the Gold Medal crew delivered so often. And then it all screeches to a halt while the narrator decides to enlighten the reader at length with an opinion that may, or may not, be related to the rest of the story. That bothers me, but what really brings me down is how overwhelmingly RIGHT John D makes McGee. McGee understands life, women, politics, machines and the whole damn world better than anybody around him. And he's going to make sure you know it, too. Look, I like the books and won't stop reading them, but all too often I get the feeling that the author wants me to feel a strong desire to buy McGee a drink and slap him on the back for being so righteous, when what I really want to do is tell him to shut up.


    ________________________________ From: Kevin Burton Smith <> To: Sent: Sat, October 17, 2009 11:47:06 AM Subject: RARA-AVIS: Re: John D.

       Tom wrote:

    > I just finished a John D McDonald standalone, "One Monday We Killed
    > Them All". what a title, eh?
    > I had a mixed reaction to this book, mostly on account of the
    > narrative voice. it's written in first person, but about a third of
    > the time I was unconvinced that what I was reading was how that
    > character would actually say or describe something. especially, like
    > in the McGee books, when characters would go on lengthy implausible
    > monologues about a topic, in McDonald's "pointed sociological
    > asides" way, here mostly about the state of American justice. too
    > much of John D putting his words into his characters' mouths. that
    > stuff really bugs me, pulls me out of the story, just makes me roll
    > my eyes. it's a mistake that John D's peers, like Charles Williams
    > and Gil Brewer and Jim Thompson, were much less likely to make when
    > writing in first person.

    I don't want to turn this into a big political debate, but I was wondering if you tended to agree with McGee's rants or not. Because I've found that often a reader's tolerance for digressions (or off- topic rants or socio-political pontificating or whatever you call it) depended on whether they agreed with the digressions or not.

    Some people thought Mike Hammer should just shut up; others feel Warshawski should put a sock in it. Me, I just put down their rants as being part of who they are.

    Yet MacDonald, Paretsky and Spillane -- unlike Charles Williams and Gil Brewer and Jim Thompson -- are or were mainstream bestsellers, so those same rants must have been more readily acceptable to a lot of people.

    Some people don't like characters to have opinions; other people just don't like characters to have opinions they don't share.

    Kevin Burton Smith Editor/Founder The Thrilling Detective Web Site
    "Wasting your time on the web since 1998."

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