Saturday, June 23, 2007


Crime writer Sara Paretsky, creator of detective V.I.Warshawski, has written a stimulating article entitled Mean Streets in the Guardian today.

Ms Paretsky discussed the writings of Laura Ingalls Wilder, James Fennimore Cooper, Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett and their influence on American culture and the myth of the lone hero. I learned a lot particularly about the life of Dashiell Hammett, and his detective Sam Spade. Her comparison of VI Warshawski with the arch loner Chandler's Phillip Marlowe was also of interest. Ms Paretsky does not hide her political views, and her contempt for the "cowboys gone bad."

"Hammett created raw individualists who cared for nobody. Chandler reclothed these hard- boiled, amoral men with the trappings of the old cowboy chivalry of Natty Bumpo [Leatherstocking;James Fennimore Cooper] or the Ingalls family."

She ends her article with a little dig at "those reckless cowboys who are galloping across the world's range today, despoiling it", and compares them with a past hero.

"Whenever I go to Washington, I stop at the Lincoln memorial and look up at Mr Lincoln's wise, kind face. I wish he would come back and save the republic."

I am a real Abraham Lincoln fanatic, and have visited many of the Lincoln sites in my admiration for America's greatest president. But it is clear from his life that he was a real human being, and not some mythic idealistic superman. Lincoln was a political realist, who was determined to do anything necessary to win the war in order to save the Union.

Lincoln saved the republic with the considerable assistance of Sam Grant, and William Tecumseh Sherman. Those commanders character and methods of waging war might not survive modern day media attention.

You can read Sara Paretsky's full article at:


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks, Norm, I'll read her article. I am an admirer of Lincoln, too. I also used to love the V I Washsawski books, too, but the last one was pretty dreadful I thought, very disappointing. I hope SP will be back on form for her next. The political convictions are always a stimulating aspect of the VI books, but in the last one (Fire Sale) they overwhelmed it to the point of unreadability.

2:59 PM  
Blogger Uriah Robinson said...

Maxine, I found her previous book Black List gave me a similar problem. Paretsky seemed to have written the book just to make a very obvious political point, which she hammered home with the subtlety of a charging rhinoceros.

3:47 PM  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I've never read Paretsky, but I join you both as a non-American Lincoln liker for a simple reason: the man could write. I recommend the Library of American volumes of his letters and speeches.
Detectives Beyond Borders
"Because Murder Is More Fun Away From Home"

11:02 PM  
Blogger Uriah Robinson said...

Lincoln's speeches, rather like Winston Churchill's, still have the power to inspire even after all this time. Incredible for a man who had only 18 months formal schooling.
"Military glory-that attractive rainbow that rises in showers of blood-that serpent's eye that charms to destroy."
I wonder how Lincoln and his generals would have tackled Iraq, and Afghanistan.

4:03 AM  

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