RARA-AVIS: Clive James (!) on Chandler

From: William Denton ( buff@pobox.com)
Date: 27 Sep 2001

I bet all the UK and Australian rare birds have an opinion of Clive James, and could be fed up with him. He's not so well known in Canada nor, I think, the US. Apparently he has a new book out called RELIABLE ESSAYS: THE BEST OF CLIVE JAMES, and in the review in the Globe and Mail last Saturday, the reviewer (Heather Mallick, a columnist who seems fairly sensible) said of James:

| He has knack for quotation. Reviewers know to their sorrow that any
| authorial quote hauled out for praise will end up sounding a bit thin,
| but when James writes the definitive essay on Raymond Chandler in
| RELIABLE ESSAYS, and gives us this, it works.
| "The rain splashed knee-high off the sidewalks, filled the gutters, and
| big cops in slickers that shone like gun barrels had a lot of fun
| carrying little girls in silk stockings and cute little rubber boots
| across the bad places, with a lot of squeezing."
| This is from Chandler's short story, "Killer in the Rain." But then
| when James goes on to write, in praise of Chandler, "Flaubert liked
| tinsel better than silver because tinsel possessed all silver's
| attributes plus one addition--pathos," he explains Chandler's essence.
| He gave a halo, albeit a fluoreschent one, to cheapness.

I'm suspicious of "the definitive essay," and Chandler did a hell of a lot more than give a halo to cheapness (did he, in fact, even do that?). That's Mallick talking, though. Has anyone read this essay?


William Denton : Toronto, Canada : http://www.miskatonic.org/ : Caveat lector.

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