Re: RARA-AVIS: Re: Block-McBain

From: James Michael Rogers (
Date: 05 Jan 2010

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    As a matter of personal taste, I just flat out don't care for Lawrence Block. Dates back to when I was a kid and he was an unavoidable presence in EQMM, I think. Plus sometimes he strikes me as a bit preachy-touchy-feely in that Ross MacDonald way.
     I believe McBain/Hunter is a true hot shot. I can't say he's under-rated because, in his Evan Hunter persona, he isn't. But we probably haven't talked about him enough here. I don't really think he's HB, per se, but he certainly borrowed some of that sensibility on occasion.


      ----- Original Message -----
      From: jacquesdebierue
      Sent: Tuesday, January 05, 2010 14:40
      Subject: RARA-AVIS: Re: Block-McBain


      --- In, "phred deVecca" <frogprod@...> wrote:
    > wow -talk about "different strokes"!
    > I've never been able to finish an 87th Precinct book and I've tried several- and I think Block is one of the 2 or 3 best PI novelists of the modern age... 8 MILLION WAYS TO DIE and WHEN THE SACRED GINMILL CLOSES are 2 of the best of the century (though the more recent titles are weaker - still worthwhile though) and Scudder is one of the most believable, effective and approachable alcoholc characters anywhere in literature

      Block is a very good writer. However, he sometimes conveys a sense of the gimmick, that he is trying to con the reader, or wink at the reader. That is not the highest level of artistry, in my opinion.

      I think Evan Hunter reached that level more often than Block, but it is a highly subjective and dubious enterprise -- one can't be quantitative when it comes to two such prolific writers. What do we pit against what? The best of one against the best of the other? Or their averages? No, we shouldn't be comparing.

      I do reiterate the recommendation of Evan Hunter's various collections of short stories. Most are not mystery stories, or are only incidentally so.

      By the way, Westlake, in his introduction to the Levine novella collection, speaks very highly of Hunter and says that when he came in contact with Hunter's work, he underwent a serious change in his approach. They were friends.




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