Thanksgiving Kindling

Lost-in-the-Woods County is relatively bereft of retail opportunities, so Black Friday is a relatively insignificant occasion around here. An in-law told me that Wal-Mart is slammed, but that’s really about it. Instead, I’m catching up a bit on my electronic reading. I finished Byron’s Don Juan this afternoon (which I suppose is more than he could say). I had been reading a few dozen stanzas at a time as I waited to pick the Spawn up after school, so it was spread out over a few weeks, but I went ahead and polished it off with my lunch of leftovers. I know I missed some jokes, but it’s remarkable how many of them I still can get nearly two hundred years later — again, human nature is what it is, and so there’s always room for satire.

And speaking of satire, I read Sin Hellcat, by Lawrence Block and Donald Westlake, yesterday afternoon. It’s one of the three collaborations they did that were published in a dead-tree edition as Hellcats and Honeygirls last year, and sold out faster than many very fast things. Yes, there’s a crime element — as there would have to be, given our two authors — and yes, there’s plenty of sex (as there would have to be, given the dictates of the market for which they wrote), but in a way, the book isn’t that dissimilar from Don Juan. In both cases, the heroes take what satisfactions they can through a series of humorous adventures in a hypocritical world, with trenchant comments to be found on matrimony and mores along the way. Block has mentioned to me that of the three books they did together, this is the one in which their voices blend most seamlessly, and I wouldn’t argue. It is a pleasantly crafted entertainment, and made for a cheerful hour or so.

On deck is Death Quotient and Other Stories, a collection of early stuff from John D. MacDonald, another writer whose work pulled me into my appreciation for crime fiction. This will be some of his pulp work, but I’ve enjoyed what I’ve read of that as well. And with that, I hope you’ll excuse me — I have some reading to do.

About profmondo

Dad, husband, mostly free individual, medievalist, writer, and drummer. "Gladly wolde he lerne and gladly teche."
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2 Responses to Thanksgiving Kindling

  1. A lot of the early John D. MacDonald is filled with interesting social commentary.

    • profmondo says:

      This is true of the McGee books as well, of course, and I think it goes to a point Robert B. Parker made in his dissertation. The pulp hero functions by a code of honor and toughness — see also Chandler’s “Down these mean streets a man must go…” The contrast between that native honor (which Parker sees as an American Adam) and a postlapsarian world means such commentary is inevitable. Thanks for dropping by, and don’t be a stranger!

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