Some of my work on Updike was discussed on The Dish with Andrew Sullivan.
Some of my work on Ross Macdonald was discussed on Pretty Sinister Books.
Here is my interview with superstar music impresario Wendy Starland.
Here is my interview with Pulitzer Prize nominee Olympia Vernon.
Here is my interview with the editor of Best American Short Stories, Heidi Pitlor.
Here is my interview with acclaimed artist Emil Kazaz.
My musing on John D. Macdonald, Travis McGee, and the chicks was picked up on The Rap Sheet.

Ross Macdonald: Characteristics of the Archer Novels



In studying the Lew Archer novels of Ross Macdonald I’ve tried to identify certain characteristics, themes, motifs, images – call them what you like – that crop up frequently throughout the various books.  I don’t claim that the following are particularly important or have any special significance or meaning; nor do I say this is a comprehensive list.  They are simply some things I’ve noticed in more than one of the novels.  Some of these appear in quite a few of the Archers.  In time I hope to post the results of reading through each of the books individually while searching for these ‘repeaters’.

1.     The Archer code – money is unimportant, or at any rate less important than moving in and out of people’s lives.
2.     The excellence of the portrayal of minor characters.
3.     The “look into the past”.
4.     The ecology and sociology of California.
5.     The excellence of the similes.
6.     The influence of World War Two.
7.     The convergence of the past and the present.
8.     What Ross Macdonald himself called “smothered allegiance and uncertain identity”.
9.     Bitten fingernails.
10.  Eyebrows.
11.   Female breasts.
12.    Suntans.
13.    A character in a case expressing surprise at how much Archer knows about them.
14.     Rich people are unhappy.
15.      Archer displays knowledge he shouldn’t have about the arts or literature; Macdonald cannot resist the temptation.
16.    “Something” as in “Are you a detective or something?”  “Something.”
17.    Old letters.
18.     Overheard conversations.
19.     Eyes.
20.     Britishisms.  


2 comments:

  1. Interesting. The two books that I've read of him: The Galton Case and The blue Hammer definitely have some of these esp. the 'look into the past' and 'the convergence of past and present'. Good luck with this project.

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  2. Britishisms? Or do you mean, more accurately, Canadianisms? Macdonald/Millar often spoke of "the magnetic pull of the North" and its influence on his work.

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