William Deverell — Novelist

The official website of William Deverell, Winner of the Dashiell Hammett Award for Literary Excellence in North American Crime Writing

The Blog: March 5, 2014

A Response to Horace Widgeon

Dear Horace,

Thank you for inviting me to publish in my blog a full and unequivocal apology for whatever I said that ails you.

May I call you Horace? And perchance were you named after the great Roman poet and satirist? By intriguing coincidence he was also a How-To’er, whose The Art of Poetry, unlike the bulk of your output, is still in print, and which famously mocked the worthless creations of the literarily inept: “The mountains are in labour, and a ridiculous mouse will be born.”

Ah, but satire, as I submitted in my last posting, is not your bag, is it?

Not to rub salt, old stick, but you may remember my using that very quote in my syndicated review, some years back, of your twenty-third Inspector Grodgins mystery, Blood on the Remainder Table, in which I had a little fun with your cliché-driven sentences and fussy literary mannerisms.

And it has struck me that your skin-thickening job as a customs inspector has not quite armoured you against robust literary criticism. To be soul-searchingly fair, the threats of legal action you hurl at me really stem from that review, don’t they? To employ the kind of mixed metaphor your prose revels in, that’s a thorn that still nettles you. And surely it’s the true impetus behind what I see as an intemperate duck-fit.

As men of letters, cannot we continue our duel not with pistols but epistles – in the tradition of the great literary feuds: Wordswoth vs. Coleridge, Dickens vs. Thackeray, Hemingway vs. Faulkner? Or how about this: in settlement of your spurious claims, may I invite you to write a savage (however platitudinous) review of one of my books.

As to your threat to expel me from the IACW, please be informed that I have enjoyed a tsunami of support from comrades of the pen, led by the internationally acclaimed Steven Galloway, whose petition in support of my right to free expression and opposing my expulsion can be found here. I invite you to suck it up and sign it, and let that be an end to matters.

Otherwise, bring on your lawyers. I am ready.

I conclude by another line from Horace, Satires, Book I: “You that intend to write about what is worthy to be read more than once, blot frequently.”

Yours sincerely,

Bill Deverell