RE: RARA-AVIS: "Criminal Conversation" in the PARIS REVIEW Crime issue, #164

From: Robison Michael R CNIN (
Date: 28 Mar 2003

Todd quoted this:

Evan Hunter: I came to Chandler when I was very young and loved him, of course, but I loved him for the very things I learned not to like later on. Sentimentality about the city, sexy women sliding toward you [wonder if he meant to say sidling, or perhaps did and was mistranscribed].--all this stuff would appeal to an adolescent. Late on when I began to reread him to see what had so captivated me, I really found a great many flaws in the writing.

Elmore Leonard: I agree with Evan. I didn't learn anything at all from Chandler, or from Dashiell Hammett.
************* Interesting comments, Todd. I wonder what Hunter thought about Hemingway? I haven't read a lot of the transition detective stuff between Hammett's RED HARVEST and MALTESE FALCON and Chandler's THE BIG SLEEP, but from one to the other I see a big shift in the hardboiled nature of the detectives. The Con Op and Sam Spade are hard as nails all the time. Marlowe more closely resembles Heming- way's heroes (Jake Barnes comes to mind), tough in public but tor- tured in private by inner demons. Those thoughtful moments alone must be what Hunter is calling sentimentality.

I liked his comment about Chandler's stuff appealing to an adolescent. Joyce Carol Oates used the same technique in her critique of James Cain in Madden's TOUGH GUY WRITERS OF THE THIRTIES. Don't just take shots at the writer. Demean the writer's fans too. ;-) Gotta love it.


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