RARA-AVIS: James Atlee Phillips/Raymond Chandler

From: abc@wt.net
Date: 28 Sep 2000

The issue of ESPIONAGE with the Phillips interview is from November 1985.
 Here's what Phillips says when Nevins asks about the Chandler and the blurb:

"I had read and admired his work for yers. He was always vivid and always had the give for felicitous phrases. He could describe the seamy side of the West Coast better than anybody who ever lived. Then, one night--this was sometime in the middle of the late Fifties, I guess--he called me up.
 It was around midnight California time and a couple of hours later where I was, I guess. He was in his cups. He said he just wanted to tell me how much he'd admired some story of mine that he'd read in Collier's. I really couldn't take it very seriously becuase I knew that anybody who wrote as well as he did wsan't going to admire anything of mine he'd read in Collier's. Those stories had to be workmanlike, and I'm sure that he thought I wrote a fairly clean line, but you weren't going to find anything in the Saturday Evening Post or Collier's that would compare with Chandler's.
 They wouldn't have published anything that good, because their stories were written to a formula. Anyway, he called me three or four times. I remember, now, I had a big house in Ft. Worth then, and it was always around 3:00 A.M. Texas time when he called, and he was always loaded to the gills.
 He was just as garrulous as a country farmer."

"And he also wrote you a lot of letters?"

"No, only the one letter. I mentioned it several years later to Knox Burger and he took it form me and ran that quote. I never got the letter back and I don't know whatever happened to it."

So there you have it. The entire interview is fascinating, by the way.

Bill Crider

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