RARA-AVIS: Ross MacDonald--the Two Faces

From: chacharat2002 (decliningreturns@gmail.com)
Date: 06 Jan 2010

  • Next message: jacquesdebierue: "RARA-AVIS: Re: Ross MacDonald--the Two Faces"

    Hi: In a recent post regarding Ed McBain, a couple of members noted they found Ross MacDonald "preachy", etc. This is not exactly the way I would describe his last 3-4 books, which I found almost unreadable, although I was--and am-- a great Ross MacDonald/Kenneth Millar fan. I found these last few books infused with a compulsion to show the disfunctional California family at any cost to realism/narrative flow. His publisher it seemed wanted his books also to be publicized as "novels" rather than detective/crime fiction. It has been many years since I read these, but these last few books are the only ones of his that I am willing to dispose of.

    Anyone interested in topflight private eye fiction is doing himself a great disservice not to read all of his earlier fiction at novel length and the excellent short stories originally published in Manhunt magazine and now available in 2 collections(1 may be out of print). I suggest reading them roughly chroniclogically.

    Some observers confuse Ross MacDonald(sometimes published as John Ross MacDonald) with John D MacDonald whose "Travis MacGee" series novels, in the few I have tried to read(and failed by chapter 2) are certainly very preachy(in my opinion).

    However, John D MacDonald is one of the top notch pbo mystery/ suspense novelists and top detective pulp fiction writers as well as excellent writer in the mystery digests(Doc Savage, the Shadow).

     Many writers perhaps who are fairly prolific will have a "dud" series or character or period in their writings.

    Ken McDaniel

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