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

From: Al Guthrie (
Date: 29 Mar 2003

----- Original Message ----- From: "Mark Sullivan" <>

> "Of those who did learn something from them, who writes as well as
> Chandler or Hammett?"
> Crumley at his best?

Crumley writes PI novels. Hunter and Leonard don't. Hunter and Leonard have both broken new ground in crime writing.
> "Is Chandler's dialogue superior to Leonard's?"
> I see these as being so different that they can't be compared.

I'd say that applies to the whole discussion, not just dialogue. Why compare Leonard to Chandler at all? What on earth are they supposed to have in common? Why is Leonard supposed to be influenced by a writer of PI novels when he writes from the other side?

> "Is PLAYBACK better than THE SWITCH?"
> Talk about setting up an unfair match. Plenty of books, even by authors
> far less worthy than Leonard, are far better than Playback (the only
> Chandler I've only read once). Out of curiosity, why did you choose The
> Switch? Are you implying that was one of Leonard's better books?
> Although I enjoyed it well enough, I wouldn't put it in my top 5, or
> even 10, Leonards (none of which I've read more than once).

THE SWITCH is very close to perfection, IMO. But my opinion is exactly that, and no more. Reading is subjective. We look for different things. For instance, it's a rare detective novel that grabs my attention. I'm often distracted by wondering what's going on in the criminal's mind. I end up irritated and disappointed when I don't find out.


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