Arthur Upfield

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Arthur Upfield

Postby Estraa on Tuesday, 22 June 2010, 10:20 am

At least one of his novels, Death of a Lake, is listed at FantasticFiction, although the genre that it's usually marketed under, probably for a reason, is detective story or mystery. I have not read anything by him myself, which is why I would be curious to know if anyone here has, and whether his books are at least ~10 buck keepers (if I buy, I try to keep).

Some relevant facts: Upfield's mysteries come highly recommended by Jack Vance. There is a thread about Upfield here, but I don't find it very conclusive, except that Death of a Lake might be the best place to start. His books are a bit difficult to find (by that I mean that one must buy them used and there don't seem to be many copies available for a reasonable price, even if one doesn't dislike tanned paperbacks from the 70s ... and, I don't know what the library situation is in other parts of the world, but here one must personally import Upfield by taking advantage of the international postal services in order to get it in one's hands). I checked, and Upfield isn't listed at MattersCriminous (not worthy or not known, Eric?).
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Re: Arthur Upfield

Postby owlcroft on Tuesday, 22 June 2010, 4:19 pm

Only faintly known to me, by memory of his lead character's distinctive name. A little homework shows that he was apparently a pretty good crime-fiction author--the reliable "Author's Calendar" site page on Upfield quotes some reputable literary figures (J.B. Priestley, H. R. F. Keating) in praise. But why he or any of his work should be listed as "fantastic" in any sense is quite unclear (at least to me) even after quite some looking about.

I should mention, for those unacquainted with it, that at the Matters Criminous site I try to make clear that I have not vast amounts of reading experience with the genre, nothing like what I have in sf&f, and am only trying to highlight a few particularly literate series characters. I do that because in crime fiction, as in sf&f fiction, there is a dreadful amount of mediocre or worse writing; worse, in crime there is--or was in earlier times--almost a positve antipathy to literate prose, as several quotations from leading lights in the field strikingly demonstrate. Any here who haven't yet visitied that site are invited to take a peek. It has not yet, even after some long time, been properly finished (as is the case here), but it is "complete" in the sense that there is at least something written about all the series covered.
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Re: Arthur Upfield

Postby Estraa on Tuesday, 22 June 2010, 9:24 pm

Apparently, although not explicitly stated, the "fantastic" in FantasticFiction(co.uk) does not mean speculative nor ... fantastic. This is the first time I have looked at the site's front page. Oh well.

I suppose I will give this thread a few days and then, if nothing unexpected happens, go ahead and order a copy of Death of a Lake, and report back some day. (I would give more weight to Vance's endorsement if I had a better idea of what he has read in the past fifty years, other than some mysteries.)
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Re: Arthur Upfield

Postby owlcroft on Wednesday, 23 June 2010, 3:34 am

Never forget that Vance won award-winning mystery fiction (an Edgar, I believe, the mystery equivalent of the Hugo). I have had the Vance Integral Edition since it was released, but have read only one of his mystery books--ok, but quite unexciting, I thought. Bad Ronald is supposed to be his best of that sort, but I haven't gotten to it yet.
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Re: Arthur Upfield

Postby Estraa on Wednesday, 23 June 2010, 7:40 pm

Vance's mystery fiction has been difficult to find, to say the least; I haven't read any of it. However, I should receive the first two volumes of the Compact Vance Integral Edition in the next couple of weeks, which include Bad Ronald and some other of his (non-scifi) mysteries.
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Re: Arthur Upfield

Postby DavidTate on Friday, 25 June 2010, 8:15 pm

I've read at least half-a-dozen of Upfield's "Inspector Napoleon Bonaparte" mysteries, and greatly enjoyed most of them. (In fact, I have a copy of The Bushman Who Came Back sitting around here somewhere in one of my various "maybe I'll re-read this sometime soon" piles.)

As for speculativeness (speculativity? speculation?), I hadn't really thought about it before, but I suppose you could make a case. There does seem to be a strong hint of effective aboriginal 'magic', particularly in works like The Bone is Pointed. If anything, the supernatural aspect is stronger in these books than in (say) the Yellowthread Street mystery novels of William L. Marshall, which are sometimes cited as borderline speculative.
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