A weblog dedicated to noir fiction and film, music, poetry and politics.
It's true that compared to Thomas' books, the current crop of crime novels seem big and draggy. These books are only superficially deep, though. Thomas used a light touch, but he had a lot to say.
What a great post, Woody. Thomas is one of my favorites too. I wrote an essay about Briarpatch for Jim Huang's Mystery Muses, but I think I learned more from your post than when I wrote it. I also wonder why he fell out of favor.. his prose is so lucid, his plots crisp, his characters so dark.. (sigh...) Anyway, thanks.
Why don't more people know about Jim Nisbet. I love his work, even if at time you need a dictionary to help with the vocabulary....
Great discussion of Ross Thomas. I enjoyed reading CHINAMAN'S CHANCE and his first title I can't recall the title of. Thanks. I enjoyed very much.Ed Lynskey
i was a university of maryland journalism student in 1969 when i decided to write a feature story about my favorite writer — ross thomas. i had read his first book in 1968 because my roommate's girlfriend was a librarian and knew i liked the mystery-thriller genre. i wrote a letter to ross's publisher in new york to get his phone number and address (the dust jacket said he lived in d.c., just a few miles from u-md). a week or two went by and i got a letter from them. i called and arranged an interview, during which ross mentioned that i could have gotten his number from the phone book. i did two followup interviews and a photo session and wrote a pretty good story for the campus paper. a month after publication ross came to my house in college park for dinner and we had a great time chatting and drinking. of course, i kept up with all of his subsequent books. much later, as a feature writer for the baltimore sun, i interviewed him again in malibu in about 1982. as we settled in his living room overlooking the pacific i turned on my tape recorder to start the interview — and found that the batteries were dead. ross said something like, "you don't need it anyway." i didn't take a single note in two hours of conversation, but after taking my leave, i drove about a mile down the pacific coast highway, pulled over and then wrote down as much as i could for about 60 minutes. ross mentioned at some point his love of discovering unusual names.....he said he often would comb through out-of-town phone books looking for good names. i found out that he honored me with a character's name in "twilight at mac's place" — horace purchase. ross thomas was the best — a great writer and a great person as well. he is still missed. thank you, woody, for all of your wonderful observations on your blog.....steve purchase, baltimore
Anyone who has spent more than a week in Oklahoma City will recognize not only setting but characters--the aged newspaper publisher and his son are clearly based on the Gaylord family. Thomas doesn't even bother with a disclaimer about nothing resembling characters and places. Brilliant evocation of the city.bobdavisaz
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