segunda-feira, setembro 02, 2019

Non-Over-Wrought Fiction: "A Dangerous Man" by Robert Crais



Crime can be just as much 'literary' fiction as anything else. Granted that much is little different from watching the telly but people get high falutin about TV series these days and I'd simply rather read than watch, mainly. And its rarely up its own arse or boring... and even stuff that’s not brilliant can be enjoyable, like 'A Dangerous Man', which is more than can be said for much of the 'over-wrought' stuff that gets so lauded as literature...And at least if you read rather than watch you don’t have to worry about the ending being changed - yes, I’m talking about you "Ordeal by Innocence". Oh the conceit of an adaptor who thinks they know better than the author. Dismissed as 'genre', crime fiction more than a generation ago surpassed literary fiction as a threat to the forests. Today it is so amorphous that there really is little if anything --not even crime-- to link the 'hardboiled' novel with the fat old lady with cats 'cosies'. It is amusing to read the one-star Amazon reviews of recent crime fiction, where books are damned for including 'violence' and 'language'. Crime fiction has had huge influence on literary fiction from Camus to Murakami. As a form it’s incredibly flexible and the perfect vehicle to investigate the working of society be it race, class or sexuality. Ross McDonald, Elroy, chandler, Hammett, James M Cain, Highsmith, Dorothy Hughes, Chester Himes, Walter Moseley - the list is impressive and endless. And that is leaving out Christie and her acolytes and Scandinavian Noir. It’s no surprise that he has powered past so much pretentious and irrelevant literary work. Read 'The Postman Always rings twice' and then read The Outsider. This is not something I'm making up this is something that the article above alludes to and Camus said himself. He was influenced strongly By Cain. Sartre was also strongly influenced by crime fiction in the writing of Nausea. The book 'Looking for the Stranger' by Alice Kaplan, a well-regarded authority on Camus, also mentions the influence of 'The Postman Always rings twice'. Congrats to those who chose "A Dangerous Man" as a crime novel; a lead pipe in the library and a raspberry to those who chose a work of literary fiction which could in no way be defined as a crime novel. After having read more serious stuff lately (6 books on Quantum Physics and the like) I felt the need to lighten up. 

Should I go down the Mundane or the Crime Fiction Path I asked myself. I gave up with "literary fiction" chiefly because most "literary novelists" write tedious drivel that gets extravagantly overpraised in the press, being reviewed by their backscratching mates inside the tiny cosy literary scenes. After some deep thought, I decided on the latest Crais: “A Dangerous Man”. What’s better than tackling a Crime Fiction novel by none other than one of the so-called Masters of the form? What have I got to report after having finished it? Not much, but I liked the Mystery. A Crime Fiction novel with a good mystery at its centre can still work if the writing is bad as long as the mystery works. Obviously good writing is better but in this kind of book it’s optional. On the other hand, if the mystery is nonsense then no manner of finely tuned phrases are going to cover it up. In the case of the “A Dangerous Man” the murder mystery is quite passable and there isn’t much gruesomeness.

2 comentários:

Bookstooge disse...

I feel like Crime Fiction has spread over the literary world like a bog or a marsh swamp. It's shallow but it is EVERYWHERE! Even I've been snared a time or two ;-) Christie and Brother Cadfael and next year I'll be diving in to Saint Tommy books by Declan Finn. (I'll probably classify that as Urban Fantasy more than crime fiction, but still...)

Glad to see some fiction here. Do you think you'll have a string of them or will you go back to non-fiction?

Manuel Antão disse...

I needed a rest from all the heavy-going stuff. I've got a few SF novels lined up which I prefer over Crime Fiction.