Re: RARA-AVIS: "Pretentious" metaphors

From: Ed Lynskey (
Date: 18 Jan 2003

I've often wondered if it isn't hard work to think up all of those slick metaphors. Some of RM's are gems. Well, Chandler, too. If placed subtly and wisely within the text, they add some zip to the story for me.

So, RM broke out of the Chandler prototype novel after six. I'll look for that in my copy of
_The Blue Hammer_. It's fascinating how major writers evolve into maturer styles.

Ed Lynskey

--- Mario Taboada <> wrote:
> Undoubtedly, Ross Macdonald did abuse metaphor and simile
> in several of his Chandlerian novels (the first six
> mysteries, if I'm counting right). It's as bad in Macdonald
> as it is in Chandler -- were one to look at it objectively.
> But I cannot look objectively at Chandler. His writing has
> such hypnotic charm (alert) that he has me eating out of
> his hand (alert) like a (alert) just-adopted-puppy.
> So yeah, we all know that heavy doses of metaphor can screw
> up and even spoil a writer's work; the miracle is that
> sometimes it doesn't.
> Anecdotally, I have noticed that contemporary master Donald
> Westlake almost completely avoids metaphor and simile. In
> that, too, he is a Twain-Hemingway-Hammett disciple. And
> Elmore Leonard, a very different kind of master, is another
> who avoids those tricks. People don't talk like that, so
> why write like that? The modern reader has little patience.
> Finally, the Chandlerian-style figures of speech should
> probably be retired from circulation in crime fiction.
> Regards, and sorry for rambling.
> MrT


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