Thursday, August 9, 2007

More Ross Macdonald

Michael A. Black is a Chicago writer, author of the Ron Shade series, which includes FINAL JUDGMENT and A KILLING FROST. This is in response to Ed Gorman's piece on Ross Macdonald:

Reflections on Ross MacDonald

I enjoyed Ed Gorman’s reminiscence of the late, great Ross MacDonald. I believe he stopped using John Ross after John D. MacDonald’s mother bought a dozen copies of a Lew Archer novel thinking it was her son’s book. Ross MacDonald had a great style that brought much deserved attention to the mystery genre. When Eudora Whelty reviewed The Underground Man for the New York Times Book Section it legitimized the genre and gave mystery the much deserved attention it needed. Like Ed, I discovered Ross MacDonald as a teenager and became immediately fascinated with his smooth style and stunning imagery. It’s a shame that Alzheimer’s claimed his memory before he could write the rest of the novels he’d planned. I wrote an essay for the PWA newsletter last year about Ross MacDonald’s novels being translated to film as the Paul Newman movies, Harper and The Drowning Pool. (Newman insisted the character’s name being changed from Archer to Harper to fit with his affinity for the letter H, and in Hud and The Hustler.) I’d like to add one of Paul’s more recent films, Twilight, to this list. Although it’s not officially part of the Harper series, and wasn’t taken from a MacDonald novel, its plot is almost an homage to Ross MacDonald’s consistent theme of a crime in the past coming back to haunt the present. And I’d also second Ed’s endorsement of the new Ross MacDonald collection of short stories. Each is like a mini-novel. My personal favorite is “The Bearded Lady.”