Re: RARA-AVIS: Block-McBain

From: Patrick King (
Date: 07 Jan 2010

  • Next message: jacquesdebierue: "Re: RARA-AVIS: Block-McBain"

    I'm well known to be a fan (and of course a publisher) of Lawrence Block, so take this with a grain of salt if you must, but honestly, saying you think Block's not worth reading because you've read EVERYBODY DIES, THE BURGLAR WHO THOUGHT HE WAS BOGART, and THE BURGLAR WHO TRADED TED WILLIAMS is a lot like saying you think James M. Cain's an overrated hack because you read GALATEA, THE MAGICIAN'S WIFE, and THE INSTITUTE. Or that Ed McBain's not worth reading because you read JIGSAW (which, incidentally, is one of the weakest novels I've ever read). Every author's got better and worse books, and if you're going to form an opinion of an author based on just a few examples, you owe it to yourself to choose the ones that are widely considered to be his best.

    If, after you read some of these, you still don't like Block, so be it
    -- no author, no matter how good, pleases everyone. But all this talk about how McBain is objectively better because he writes realistically and honestly conveys emotion, etc., etc., is utter nonsense. McBain at his best does do those things, but so does Block, every bit as well.


    In fairness, Charles, like everyone else these days, I have to steal time to read. It is not an activity you can do while you're doing anything else so when I'm reading, I want to be reading something that takes me away. I agree, both Block and I were unlucky that I hit the 3 books he wrote that were fifth rate. So what am I going to do, keep reading what I consider to be a lousy writer until I hit a good one? I could be re-reading McBain, or Thompson, Chandler, or Highsmith, or Rendell, or Leonard, or Ellroy, or Forsyth, or Hammett for the twentieth time, or Arthur Conan Doyle who never lets me down and is always worth re-reading.

    A number of people here recommended Robert Leslie Bellem, so I read BLUE MURDER and assumed the posts were a practical joke. That was maybe the worst detective story I'd ever read. It didn't even make sense. I posted my opinion and both Kevin and Mario said, "Oh, that's not a good one. Try another one." So I bought KILL THAT HEADLINE. That's it! I don't have time for this. Literally, I don't have the time to read bad books. Robert Leslie Bellem is an idiot! I'm not reading anymore of his crap.

    A kid I work with gave me for Christmas David Morrell's CREEPERS and asked me every day, "How are you liking it? Did you get to the good part?" So, I took two nights of my reading life and read CREEPERS. What a predictable load of manure! I don't care if he invented Rambo, I don't care if millions love him. I don't have time to read bad books. CREEPERS has two faults: it's stupid and it sucks. I'm too busy. I'm not going to mine for good books in the cavern of a writer's head who puts down everything he thinks on paper. It asks too much of the reader.

    Right now I'm reading Doug Preston's THE MONSTER OF FLORENCE. It's creeping me out in numerous ways and I love it. Sorry you had to live through that, Doug, but excellent work.

    Patrick King


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