RARA-AVIS: The Moralizing P.I. (was boy/girl/boy/girl & Chandler)

From: Michael Sharp ( msharp@binghamton.edu)
Date: 28 Aug 2001

                                                                       I know what you mean about Marlowe's moralizing streak -- but if you read precisely one post-1962 Lew Archer novel, I think you will then see Marlowe's moralizing as subdued and understated. Actually, I can't actually recommend you do that, as it would mean subjecting yourself to something like torture. Apologies to Macdonald fans, but at some point Macdonald went into denial about the fact that he was writing crime fiction and entered completely into the delusion that he was writing Greek tragedies. The result is an inauthenticity and implausibility (especially in the dialogue) that make me wince. Archer becomes a smarmy, paternalistic, moralizing Greek chorus. It's really hard to watch/read. To be fair, his early stuff is quite competent. It's only after he became obsessed w/ killing Chandler (metaphorically speaking) that his writing went to hell. Ironically, that's also when Macdonald gained his greatest popularity and critical acclaim.
                                                                       Again, I know RM is beloved by some, so please accept this as *just my opinion*. Feel free to take your own shots at Chandler or Thompson or Holding or Himes, all of whom I worship in various ways

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