Saturday, July 05, 2014

Dan J. Marlowe excelled at his job

(Photo by your
humble blogkeeper)
If more pulp and paperback-original writers were as good as Dan J, Marlowe, there would be less talk about transcending the genre, not because Marlowe tried to transcend hard-boiled, but because he was so good at his job.

Take the series of sequels he wrote to The Name of the Game is Death and One Endless Hour, in which Marlowe, responding to his publishers' demands, turned the face-transplanted heister Earl Drake into a kind of international secret agent.  I've just read two of those novels, and in those, at least, Marlowe resisted any temptation to sulk or to turn Drake into a James Bond imitator.

In one such book (and I won't say which, to avoid spoilers), Marlowe includes a late turnabout thoroughly in line with the era's geopolitical zeitgeist, yet well prepared for with clues and observations planted judiciously throughout the novel. It's easy to imagine Marlowe sucking it up, swallowing any disappointment he might have felt at not being able to write the book he'd have liked to write, and doing the best job he could with the one he had to write.  But then, what else could one expect from an author so thorough in his descriptions of men at work, no matter their profession?

© Peter Rozovsky 2014



Blogger Unknown said...

I like the distinction -- writing as a job rather than an artistic creation (or whatever euphemism the artsy-fartsy literati would foist on us). Writing is, after all, a craft (a challenging job for a skilled craftsman -- i.e., worker) rather than a vague, aesthetic response by some inspired intellectual to some imaginary muse. That is a fact of life that enlivens so many of the pulp writers of the early decades of the 20th century. They were workers doing a job.

But perhaps I am being a traitor to my roots: the English departments of academia. Such is life!

July 06, 2014  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

The idea of the writer as a professional is a common trope in informed, intelligent discussion of the best pulp and paperback-original writers. This does not imply a rejection of standards of aesthetic excellence, of course, just that there is more than one way of achieving it.

July 06, 2014  
Anonymous Charles Kelly said...

Marlowe was a good workman. One of the things that impressed me most about him was that, having developed amnesia and believing he could never again be a writer, he took a job keeping the books for a furniture company and did that job well. He was a realist and a tough-minded guy.

July 06, 2014  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Charles, you picked a fine author by whom to be consumed. I am more impressed by Marlowe the more I read. I mentioned earlier that I shied away from the Johnny Killain novels at first, thinking they would be jokey and schticky. But even those are tough-minded and more than competently executed.

July 06, 2014  

Post a Comment

<< Home