Monday, April 09, 2007

Clive James, supercritic, on Recent Mysteries

If Stanley Fish's review of recent mysteries (through their first sentences) was an appetizer, Clive James' review in The New Yorker is the main course. This is what criticism should be: insightful, witty, entertaining. As artful as the finest fiction.
It took a long time for the roman policier to run through all its possible variations of plot and character....The only workable solution has been to shift the reader’s involvement from the center to the periphery: to the location. In most of the crime novels coming out now, it’s a matter not of what happens but of where.

Essentially, they are guidebooks....Ideally, an author should turn out a sequence of detective novels that will generate a bus tour in the city where they are set.
Another of many enjoyable lines in the essay: "Christine Falls confronts you with the question of whether you want your crime writer to have that much literary talent."

And speaking of mysteries, some jerk's been scamming mystery bookstores.


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