Alan Guthrie is not only a spectacularly good novelist and short story writer, he's also a fine historian of the hardboiled field and one of its savviest commentators. Here's from an interview he did with Dave Zeltersman a few years ago. I quote it here because the other night I talked about how the whole idea of craft sometimes gets lost in all the book hype about The Next Big Thing. Alan, commenting on James McKimmey, who published crime novels primarily in the Sixties and Seventies, defines what makes a good solid novelist...a good solid novelist:
As for what makes McKimmey special — it's a combination of factors but among them are these: his understanding of plot construction, his handling of tension, the emotional transitions of his characters, and their incredible depth and subtlety. SQUEEZE PLAY is a fine example of all the above. If you're fond of the kind of novel where you take a basically nice guy, then shovel grief on him, and then, when he can't take any more, you add another shovelful, you'll like this one.
Not part of the deal, pal.
Last week I expressed reluctant sympathy for Senator Larry Craig. I did so, as I said, despite the fact that he has a despicable voting record on many matters, including gay rights. No same sex marriages for Larry; not even civil unions; and if you visit violence on a gay man or woman, no hate crime law in case the local authorities don't feel like prosecuting. A terrible guy, really, Larry. But it instantly became clear that even though the GOP had given Catholic Man of The Year (yes) David Vitter a walk because the sex involved was straight, Craig was going to pay big time. So the sight of the lynch mob chasing even a creep like Craig was an ugly spectacle.
But this jerk didn't understand that my sympathy--usually reserved for cats and old Gold Medal writers--was extended based on the assumption that Craig would be leaving congress for good. And spend time hanging with all his NRA buddies who I'm sure will be understanding of his dilemma.
Now he wants to come back to the senate.
FU, Craig. That wasn't part of the deal.