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

From: Al Guthrie (
Date: 28 Mar 2003

----- Original Message ----- From: "jumblejim" <> To: <>

> > 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.
> Then how come them guys couldn't write as good as Chandler or Hammett?
> Mebbe they SHOULDA learned something from 'em.
> I love Leonard's Westerns--haven't cared for the one or two crime novels.
> And I love the 87th Precinct stuff. But if these guys think they write
> better than Chandler, I'm gonna have to pause and reflect a bit. Or
> that they do.

Jim has raised a number of intriguing questions:

Is Chandler's writing flawless? Of those who did learn something from them, who writes as well as Chandler or Hammett? Is Chandler's dialogue superior to Leonard's? Is PLAYBACK better than THE SWITCH?

And finally, should Hunter and Leonard have lied?


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