Thursday, May 5, 2011

JDM on Other Writers II

Question:    What books do you read?

JDM:    I would say that probably over half my reading is in non-fiction, but of the fiction I read there are only a few who are tilling the same soil I am.

Question:    Such as?

JDM:    Elmore Leonard. And Robert Parker and Ross Thomas. Those three I think are the outstanding contemporary suspense novel people.

Question:    How about people like Robert Ludlum?

JDM:    No. Robert Ludlum, I think he's got a tin ear. He doesn't write good prose. John LeCarré writes good prose. Robert Ludlum plods along in the same kind of dreary style as Leon Uris.  You can cover half a page and read the top half and tell exactly what the words are going to be at the bottom. There's no surprise, there's no poetry, there's no magic. He's got a great sense of story, and you can keep a work and a career going with a great sense of story, but it doesn't keep you from being guilty of having a tin ear. A tin ear usually results from a person not having read enough during his or her youth.

--- from an interview with Mark W. MacNamara, published in a 1985 issue of the Sunday newspaper supplement Family Weekly

Interestingly, Paul Greengrass, who is currently under consideration as director for the upcoming film version of The Deep Blue Good-By, achieved his fame by directing the film adaptation of Robert Ludlum's The Borne Supremacy.


  1. Steve, I just wanted to let you know I appreciate your blog, and was happy to stumble upon it this morning. I have spent the last couple of hours reading through some of your posts. I discovered JDM in 1985 when I bought a compendium of McGee novels and read all five of them straight-through while on a beach vacation. I was 15. Periodically, I return to MacDonald, as I did on a recent trip during which I read "A Bullet for Cinderella." I went on to study other more serious authors (Faulkner, Lawrence...etc.) but rarely have I enjoyed reading a writer as much as I do the first few chapters of a McGee, with the Boodles on ice, and Meyer aboard the Flush as the JMD sets the story in motion.

    You are doing good work here.

  2. Thank you JP, I am grateful for your comments and your appreciation. I'm really enjoying writing this blog, I only wish I had more time to devote to it.

    I am a voracious reader and, like you, I read and appreciate a wide variety of authors. There are certainly better writers than JDM, but none who provide the sheer enjoyment that his books do. I've been reading and re-reading the McGee books since the early 1970's and I never tire of them. They remain as fresh and as alive as the day they were published. It was a unique little world MacDonald created, real enough to be believable, yet escapist enough to want to disappear into.