Critic blasts crime fiction for lacking ontological scrutiny
The shame of one author's otherwise praiseworthy patterns of good, evil, damnation, redemption and salvation, the article tells us, "is that he makes those patterns in blood and gore. ... There are almost as many deaths as in Hamlet but without any of the accompanying ontological scrutiny."
It seems to me that all that evil, damnation, redemption and salvation would provide just the ontologogical kick that crime-fiction readers crave, but the article's author, Paul Vallely, has read the novel in question, Allan Guthrie's Two-Way Split; I have not. At least Vallely finished that book. He tells us with fastidious relish that he was simply unable to get far into two others that he tried: "Enough. I turned from the prologue to the first chapter. It began: `It was pissing down outside ...' Enough indeed."
Though Vallely's style is more precious than most ("As an ingénue in the world of crime writing I had expected something else ... "), his complaints are, of course, old and familiar. I thought of them earlier today as I flipped through the introduction to a book containing a story I wrote about here recently. That introduction quoted an earlier objection to the sorts of stories the book contains. The are filled with, to select just a few from a catalogue of sins, "injury, anger, wrath, hatred ... murder, cruelty ... incest ... killing, stabbing ... "
The complaint's author was John Greene, its date was 1615, and its target was stage tragedies, quite possibly including those by the guy who wrote Hamlet. In the spirit of investigation, then, I'm rereading Hamlet, even though it includes desecration of corpses and murder by poison poured into the victim's ear.
(image from http://blogs.warwick.ac.uk/frailtyofhamlet/gallery/shakepictures/)
© Peter Rozovsky 2007