RARA-AVIS: Re: Chandler and Parker

From: Gerald So ( gso@optonline.net)
Date: 13 Nov 2001

Mario wrote:

> I think Parker has a technique close to Chandler's but not the older > man's remarkable imagination or verbal originality.

I separate early Parker (GODWULF through VALEDICTION) from late Parker
(CATSKILL EAGLE through POTSHOT). While late Parker is evidently unoriginal, early Parker imagined a intellectual woman and an intelligent and utterly practical black man--perfect counterpoints to his white PI hero.

As for verbal originality (and these may just be my sensibilities growing up in the 70s and 80s), Chandler's writing often feels mannered. I can almost see him trying for "literate" prose. I get the sense that either Marlowe isn't quite real, or he wouldn't say what Chandler gives him to say.

I see early Spenser as more of a character who happened to be a P.I. His thought processes and dialogue seemed natural and well integrated.
(This isn't as noticeable as an evocative description or snappy line.) This accomplishment is more original to me than Chandler's prose.

Late Spenser *is* made out to be larger than life, and does seem unrealistic and like Parker's mouthpiece. One cause of the change may be Parker's adopting Chandler's technique of writing with no outline or plan to finish POODLE SPRINGS (1989). He's used the same technique for subsequent Spenser novels. (At least Parker says it was Chandler's technique.)


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