February 19, 2007

NOT EVERYTHING'S BETTER WITH BLUE BONET:

A Devilishly Original Twist (OTTO PENZLER, January 17, 2007, NY Sun)

It is a spectacular literary achievement to invent a truly original type of story. Most of what is admired in detective fiction are variations on a theme conceived by Edgar Allan Poe -- remarkably, in a single short story, "Murders in the Rue Morgue" -- a manifestation of a certain genius never equaled since.

Several of the most brilliant writers of the 20th century, illustrated by the fact that their novels have never gone out of print and are read as eagerly today as when they were first published, are crime writers. Dashiell Hammett, James M. Cain, Raymond Chandler, and Ross Macdonald, even with the difficult plot constraints of genre fiction, have produced examinations of the often complex workings of the human psyche with clarity and insight every bit as profound and intellectually sound as their more acclaimed "literary" peers.

Today's writers for the ages do the same. James Crumley, Michael Connelly, Robert B. Parker, Dennis Lehane, George Pelecanos, and a few others dig deep to explore both the darkest and most noble elements of the human condition, while maintaining the integrity of the mystery story.

All these giants of the past and present have elevated an existing genre. Their characters may be unlike any you have encountered before, plot twists may be original, and they may reach a stylistic level so exalted that you are compelled to reread sections and quote them aloud to others.

Having said all that, it took the underappreciated William Hjortsberg to produce the single most original private eye novel ever written. "Falling Angel" is not necessarily the best, mind you, but it is unique, and how many authors can say that?

Posted by Orrin Judd at February 19, 2007 11:10 AM
Comments

Sounds interesting, just ordered a copy... thanks for the info...

Posted by: darryl at February 19, 2007 9:21 PM
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