Friday, August 18, 2006

You can't go home again -- except when you can.

I don't have near as much time to read as I used to, so what I've been doing a lot of is rereading -- I mean, reading stuff that I know I will love cuz I've already read and loved it before. It's interesting cuz some of the stuff I haven't read for decades. Most of the time I impress myself with my impeccable taste, but some things don't hold up as well as others.
So for that reason I was a little nervous about going back and rereading Carter Brown. I loved these books; I had dozens of them -- Carter was nothing if not prolific. I remembered them as being funny, sexy, exciting and all about 120 pages so you could read it in a couple hours. And those covers by Robert McGinnis -- well, I didn't know his name then, but i sure recognized his style. They were the sexiest things I'd ever seen.
I'm happy to report that although not as witty as I remembered them, they are miles above other detective books as far as repartee goes. They're not as sexy either, in fact it all seems very tame, but that's okay, cuz I enjoy innuendoes and double entendres and those things our culture seems to be losing the ability to appreciate as we get clubbed over the head almost hourly with blatant sex and violence. They still have those great McGinnis covers -- and they're still sexy as hell -- the mysteries are compelling, the characters are well-drawn. But I can't force myself to plow through 120 pages of it.
Cuz I hate adverbs. Adverbs to me are the sign of a lazy writer who couldn't be bothered to find the right nouns and verbs and so propped up his prose with those damn adverbs. Hey, I'm all for free speech and everything but it wouldn't bother me a bit if adverbs were banned from the English language. And as much as I hate adverbs, that's how much Carter Brown adores them. He has several on every page. Think I'm exagerating? I'll pick out a page at random from the closest Carter Brown book (which happens to be The Sad-Eyed Seductress).
Here we go, here are the adverbs on page 48:
"bellowed angrily" (how else is somebody going to bellow?
"looked at him nastily"
"I said shortly"
"watched me doubtfully"
"I said carefully"
"he said icily"
"he said heavily"
At that is typical. Every page is laden with a-bombs and I find myself flinching at each one and cringing at the one I know is coming up real soon.
So I can't recommend Carter Brown books -- well, except for the covers. McGinnis is the man!

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