Re: RARA-AVIS: David Peace

From: Patrick Kennedy (
Date: 29 May 2010

  • Next message: David Corbett: "RARA-AVIS: Re: David Peace"


    I have never read Peace's work and am unlikely ever to do so, but what I was responding to was Joy's comment that, despite the review linked to being a favourable one it wouldn't encourage her to read the book.  I read the review in an attempt to find out why this should be and, from my own perspective, came to the conclusion that it might actually be down to the quality of the writing in the extracts quoted.  Usually such extracts are selected to represent the best qualities of the writer being reviewed or to give a flavour of the general style, so I was surprised by what I felt to be the very poor quality of actual the writing represented.  Basic rules of clarity and structure were being broken without the feeling of a prior basic knowledge of those rules in the writer. Of course I perfectly accept that these may work better in the overall context of the complete work, but still for me they had a flavour of untrustworthiness. Peace seems to have a particular political axe to grind, and a naively pessimistic axe at that, in my opinion.  Other crime writers also have political views and express them in their work but do not seem so blatantly propagandist about it.  In Lee Burke and Megan Abbott, for instance, the political stance is strong and inherent but usually does not overpower the storytelling skills.  John D McDonald and even Chandler intersperse moments of social commentary and philosophy into their works, but with restraint; there is usually the feeling of there being more to the writing than meets the eye and not, as I suspect from the Peace examples in the review, less. My main objection, though, was to the actual style of the writing; it just didn't seem controlled and skilful enough.  But that, like everything else in life, is purely a matter of personal taste. By the way, I do not hate graphic novels, despite feeling that they should less pretentiously still be called comics; in fact I have perpetrated a few of them myself as an amateurish writer and artist and recognize them as quite a separate artform to writing.  I guess Frank Miller's 'Sin City' series exemplifies the perfect hybrid of melodramatic crime noir writing and comic strip visual art, but I doubt anyone would ever accuse Miller of being a great writer per se. I make few allowances for poor writing in whatever genre, and in fact have encountered some of the best prose stylists in the crime writing field, John Updike, Saul Bellow and their more highly critically acclaimed ilk notwithstanding. Right now, though, I've got to sign off.  As you may have gathered, too much intellectual effort 'hoits muh head'...


    ________________________________ From: Steve Novak <> To: RARA-AVIS <> Sent: Sat, 29 May, 2010 4:38:17 Subject: Re: RARA-AVIS: David Peace

      Well, Pat, you asked for it... That you may read and not like Peace is perfectly fine and yet could also be surprising since this is a discussion group called Rara-Avis about a certain genre of writing, of filmaking, of story telling...with (hence the name of the group) direct links to certain genre conventions and practices...
    ...but, throughout the years we have taken much liberties with all this of course...and thank my argument is not there...

    When I get quite mad though is when atrocities such as ³real graphic novel stuff² are written by a critic of anything...it¹s just as if you had said something about a graphic novel and I answered in the next mail: ³pff..it¹s just like noir novels¹...a bit like some people in the old days talked about the pulps despite the fact the story in the one they had picked up was from Hammett or Thompson...but ³since it was a pulp²...just like the linguists say: you are always a peasant for somebody else...
    ..there have been graphic novels for more than 50 years now, in mass distribution, with many bad, atrocious ones, and a bunch of excellent may hate the genre but you cannot dismiss it, and I find it very
    Œuncritical¹ to use such terminology...regardless of the genre...after all you could also have said (following this line of Œthought¹): ³real japanese yakuza fim stuff¹...

    So pleae tell us your Œreal¹ objections to David Peace and please give us examples with your argumentation... I¹ll give you one, free of charge,he¹s arcane sometimes and it takes me 1/2 hr on the net to find out the reference he¹s made since I don¹t know all the jargon of Irish police and criminal life, nor the expressions or names me it detracts a bit, but maybe I should simply read through...?

    Waiting dizzily for your Saturday answer...

    ...but first I will watch the French rugby final (Clermont-Perpignan) on TV5...another type of chest-pump roughhousing...


    PS: good familiarity with the following website will help on the way...

    On 5/28/10 2:28 PM, "Patrick Kennedy" <> wrote:

    > Joy,
    > I gather that you have read some of David Peace's work.  Any good?  Better
    > than any of the extracts quoted in the review?  I must say the overall
    > impression I formed from the article was of pretentiousness cranked up to a
    > pretty dizzy level, real graphic novel stuff.  Maybe it's just me, but I can't
    > judge that type of writing at all; don't know its conventions well enough, and
    > feel like just maybe someone is trying to con me into creating a depth in its
    > gratuitous unconventionality which is in all probablilty not present at all.
    > God, I feel good getting that off my chest!  Hope I haven't upset anybody,
    > though.  Jeeze, I hope David Peace is not a member here!  Maybe I should have
    > considered that slightly earlier, though...
    > Patrick
    > ________________________________
    > From: Joy Matkowski <
    > <> >
    > To: <>
    > Sent: Fri, 28 May, 2010 7:47:02
    > Subject: RARA-AVIS: David Peace
    > Harper's magazine had an essay on David Peace that has now been
    > reprinted by Powell's review-a-day program:
    > utm_medium=email&utm_term=&utm_campaign=rad_20100528&utm_content=Review-a-day%
    > 20HEADER,
    > <
    > -day&amp;utm_medium=email&amp;utm_term=&amp;utm_campaign=rad_20100528&amp;utm_
    > content=Review-a-day%20HEADER,>
    > or
    > It's a positive review, yet if I hadn't read any of his books, I
    > wouldn't want to.
    > Joy
    > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]

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