Re: RARA-AVIS: bloated characterizations?

Date: 29 Oct 2001


Re your comments below:

> . . . do you
> really think there's no middle ground between
> Hammett's thumbnail sketches
> and "bloated" story telling? Are Connelly, Crumley,
> Lehane, and Pelecanos
> all "bloated" because their characters generally
> receive more than a couple
> sentences worth of description/development before
> they start shooting each
> other?

I think you're misreading Hammett if you regard his characters as "thumbnail sketches." It's precisely because he's able to so completely portray a character without sacrificing his economical style that is a testament to his skill. The others are not attempting to write in such a spare style. Whether or not they'd be able to if they tried is a question I can't answer, but I'm damned sure that Hammett could've written, and write well, in a more expansive style, if he's chosen to.


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