Fletcher Knebel Robert Hatch - Essay

Robert Hatch

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

[The prophetic entertainer] is a writer who makes no pretense to literary art; in matters of character, narrative devices, style and psychology, he models his work on formulas developed by the large fiction magazines, by television family drama, by the commercial movies. He is out for the very largest market (and he is reaching it), but the fuel that drives his vehicle is not love or success or adventure—it is doomsday. (p. 291)

The true application of the method is to be seen in Seven Days in May …, [which is] at present leading the domestic fiction market and … which, it seems inevitable, will soon be on film for world distribution. [This novel is] built firmly on the foundations of suspense, sustained and sweeping action, the verisimilitude of technical detail, and simplistic but strongly projected character. These ingredients of success could be predicted; more important is the fact that [the book does not allow] a gap of time or place between the reader and the fiction. Seven Days in May … [is] as immediate, in the inevitable phrase, as tomorrow's newspaper.

Knebel and Bailey … write as men intimately acquainted with the public streets and private channels of the capital. Their tale is of a narrowly averted plot by the military leadership to unseat the President and seize the country….

The authors shape their narrative, not only to carry the reader on an unbroken chase after excitement, but to neutralize his...

(The entire section is 616 words.)