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MacDonald Harris, as Philip Pullman writes in his introduction to The Balloonist, is ‘too good to be neglected’.
While the 16 novels he wrote before his death in 1993 have a wide variety of settings – ranging from film-era Hollywood to 18th-century Venice and wartime Japan – they all have in common a quite un-American stance . . . an acute sense of the ridiculousness of things’.
Perhaps it is this ironical take, viewing life slightly askance, that makes his work a somewhat sophisticated taste.
And yet Pullman also notes the simple, old-fashioned compulsiveness of his writing: one page and you’re gripped.