Monday, October 16, 2023

Read for enjoyment

Why have the books John P. Marquand wrote as popular fiction survived while his more serious, lterary, works are now seldom read? Lawrence Block in the introduction to a recent re-publication of Marquand's Your Turn, Mr. Moto:
Why has Moto survived, while Marquand's most honored creation is very much the late George Apley?

.... It is, I submit, one of the more extraordinary ironies of our ironic age that what turn out to be the most enduring fiction would presumably be categorically excluded from literary longevity.

Literary fiction, along with mainstream popular fiction, tends to give every evidence of having been written with disappearing ink. Genre fiction—crime, fantasy, western, horror, adventure, science fiction—while not precisely etched in stone, are far more likely to hang around, and they survive not as assigned reading in college classes but as books sought out and read for enjoyment by, well, readers.

Even as you and I.

Who could have guessed this would happen? People actually read Agatha Christie, and Erle Stanley Gardner, and Hammett and Chandler and MacDonald...and Macdonald, Louis L'Amour, Elmer Kelton, Bram Stoker, Robert Heinlein, J.R.R. Tolkien.

Will Mr. Moto put John P. Marquand in their company?

Well, I don't know that I'd go quite that far. But I think you'll enjoy making his acquaintance as soon as I wrap up this long-winded foreword and let you get on with it.
I remember staying up all night once reading one of Marquand's Mr. Moto books and I have several of them in my library. This one, just received, is one I've never read. It's the first, originally titled No Hero (1935).

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