RARA-AVIS: RE: Chandler's influence

From: Dick Lochte ( dlochte@adelphia.net)
Date: 11 Dec 2002

From: Kevin Burton Smith < kvnsmith@thrillingdetective.com> Subject: RARA-AVIS: Chandler's Influence

And attributing "the American setting" to Chandler, particularly by American writers, is absolutely ridiculous. Just because a few Commonwealth copycats tried to jump on the bandwagon by aping the US setting doesn't mean much. Are you suggesting that without Chandler, Ross Macdonald might have written about Buenos Aires, Leigh Brackett about Alaska or Howard Browne about Tickle Creek, Tasmania? No, they wrote about towns they lived in and knew.


Hey, Kevin, glad to see you're mellowing a little.

I think the point may be made that Chandler led the way in getting writers to pay attention to the setting, American or otherwise. Even Hammett comes up shy on that score, dropping street names and local lore
("Poisonville") but not really pausing long enough to provide a detailed sense of place. As you correctly note, Macdonald wasn't going to write about Buenos Aires (though one of his pre-Archer spy novels may have headed in that direction). But without Chandler making a big thing about the dew on the jacaranda and the way the air cools as you drive up into the canyons, it's conceivable that private eye fiction would have had considerably less interest in the local landscape.

Dick Lochte

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