“(The) American private eye, immortalized by Hammett, refined by Chandler, brought to its zenith by Macdonald”
— New York Times Book Review
“… the Archer books, the finest series of detective novels ever written by an American.”
— William Goldman, The New York Times Book Review
“…the greatest mystery novelist of his age, I would argue, even greater than Chandler.”
Last year I spent the spring re-reading Mickey Spillane’s first six Mike Hammer novels. This spring I have it in my mind to do a similar thing with Ross Macdonald. How successful I will be, I do not know.
One of the things I have discovered during the process of trying to post one poetic improvisation a day is that my creative energy does not stretch as far as my intentions do.
Time and energy are not unlimited for me at this point in life. But I will give it a try, nonetheless.
As I have said here before, book reviews are difficult for me because by the time I finish one thing, I am ready to move on to another… 6 or 12 more books actually since I am always reading many books at a time. Yet Macdonald is the kind of writer worth taking time over.
I first read Macdonald 20 years ago. Like Chandler, he was a revelation. A mystery writer who wrote literature: better literature than most of his celebrated “literary” contemporaries as a matter of fact.d
As I have written here before (and yes… I am quoting myself):
The distinction between literary and genre fictions (mysteries, westerns, fantasy, and sci.fi.) is largely an artificial one. Those who still insist on making anachronistic literary distinctions do it for the same reason that all snobs make such declarations, self-aggrandizing assholery.
The only distinctions that can legitimately be made in literature are between good writing and bad writing and good stories and bad stories. When a work of fiction takes hold of your imagination, when the language continually invites you to turn pages the writer has done his or her job. When the book haunts you and you can remember it years and years later, the writer has written a masterpiece.
If you have not read Macdonald, I hope I can encourage you do so. If you have, I hope I will be able to remind you of why you enjoyed him so much.