Irving Wallace Critical Essays


(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

Wallace, Irving 1916–

Wallace is a prolific American author of popular, topical novels, short stories, and screenplays. He has remarked that he tells his tales as if they were part of an oral tradition. (See also CLC, Vol. 7, and Contemporary Authors, Vols. 1-4, rev. ed.)

John Leverence

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

The flap about [The Chapman Report's] overt sexuality was less than justified, especially when that novel is compared with The Sins of Philip Fleming. The earlier novel was much more sexually explicit, but no one bothered to attack it. The sexual controversy overlapped into the charges that Wallace had manufactured a bestseller by stringing together frantic sex with a scant story line. But if sex sold Chapman, then sex should have sold Fleming.

Wallace wrote Chapman because he wanted to write about married women and their problems—the sexual problems being minor compared to the insensitivity and stupidity of men. Thematically, Chapman is less about sexual...

(The entire section is 961 words.)


(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

In beginning [research for a book], I'm always curious to investigate what psychological motives bring a certain person into his field or profession. Why is a surgeon a surgeon? Why does he enjoy cutting flesh? Why is a psychiatrist a psychiatrist? Why does he like to tune in on patients' private lives? Why does that woman like to teach, and why does this man like to dig into the earth? And so—for The Word—why did this man choose to become a man of God? And, indeed, how much of a man of God is he truly? Is his motive spiritual, one of pure faith, and a desire to make life more bearable, and the certainty of death more acceptable to others? Or is his motive a desire for power and authority? Or is his motive...

(The entire section is 1818 words.)

Ray B. Browne

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

In development, Wallace's novels start from a large and ranging base. Then they grow pyramidally, gradually concentrating the plot and shedding sub-plots and details as they rise until eventually the top is reached and the problem is solved. These plots are rich and complex, or they are overly complicated and confusing, depending on the reader's point of view…. [He] must have room and time to develop his novels in considerable detail to get across his message.

Once this message has been developed, however, after the puzzle has been solved, Wallace seems to lose most of his interest in the book…. [Wallace] is actually mostly gripped by the themes themselves. Little wonder then that after the...

(The entire section is 407 words.)

Tom Buckley

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

"The Two" is as much a curiosity as its subject [the life of Siamese twins]. The details of the collaboration between Irving Wallace, the novelist, and his daughter [Amy], a literary tyro, are not elucidated, but it seems unlikely that he spent much time on it. The lengthy list of acknowledgments includes Walter Kempthorne, whose "tireless correspondence and interviews, his initiative and persistence as a literary detective, truly made this book possible." Mr. Kempthorne's wife, Elizebethe, is thanked for "scholarship, fact checking and editing." Six other researchers here and abroad are cited by name.

Indeed, the book reads like a series of researchers' reports. The writing is flat, there is no...

(The entire section is 286 words.)