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« 300 Million -- Or More? | Main | Fiction, Empathy, Chix, Names »

October 25, 2006

Music and Lit

Michael Blowhard writes:

Dear Blowhards --

P.I. novelist Robert Crais is asked to explain the appeal of private eye fiction. Nice response: "What jazz is to music, detective fiction is to literature. Another color on the palette. The more colors you have, the richer you are."

Amen to that, bro. Now why don't more people agree? Funny how so many people can accept jazz and movies, perhaps even rock and design and television, as legitimate forms, yet shy away from the idea that anything but the snootiest kinds of books can be worthy of attention.

Crais is an inspired novelist, by the way. I've enjoyed and can recommend several of his novels: this one and this one. Funny and stylish, laid-back yet tense ... First-class popular literature. Oops, did I say "literature"?

Here's Robert Crais' website.



posted by Michael at October 25, 2006


I always assumed that people who like jazz do so because it is more challenging. You have to pay attention when you are listening because unlike with melody driven music the pay-off in jazz is to appreciate the nuances and stylings which tend to be unconventional. Maybe the printed word that more approximates what jazz is is poetry; both because it takes more effort to understand and because it takes more effort to enjoy.
I'm no expert on either but I just felt like spouting off.

Posted by: al on October 26, 2006 10:35 AM

Al -- I agree, I think a lot of poetry has jazz-like, free-blowing qualities. Cool stuff. I think the jazz-like thing that Crais is referring to might be something else though -- the whole idea of ringing changes on popular themes. PI novelists take old standards (archetypal situations and characters) and then try to freshen 'em up and complexify them, maybe in a way that's analogous to the way jazz people take an old tune and put it through the wringer. That's certainly true of the way Crais himself works ...

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on October 26, 2006 11:45 AM

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