RARA-AVIS: Leonard and Higgins

From: Mrriter@aol.com
Date: 31 Mar 2003

In a message dated 3/30/2003 6:56:42 AM Mountain Standard Time, allanguthrie@ukonline.co.uk writes: In 1977 Newgate Callendar makes the now obvious comparison when reviewing "Unknown Man No. 89": http://www.nytimes.com/books/98/02/08/home/leonard-unknown.html"The real influence on Leonard is George V. Higgins, whose The Friends of Eddie Coyle came out about five years ago and marked a breakthrough into the kind of language previously encountered only in paperback books with green covers...." In the Paris Review, Leonard appears to agree with the above analysis of his work, and to take it a step further: "I consider George Higgins's The Friends of Eddie Coyle the best crime book ever written. ... George Higgins set me free in the early seventies. The Friends of Eddie Coyle gave me the license to use the appropriate kind of language the way George very freely used obscenities. His style also showed me how to get into what was going on immediately, without setting up scenes, without setting up dialogue about what was going on, without telling where they were immediately. I learned all that from George. You never know who can inspire you in some way, give you exactly the sound you're looking for. That's all voice is; what interests you is what side you want to take." Later in the interview, after this acknowledgment to Higgins, Leonard makes his now-infamous statement (at least on this list) that he "didn't learn anything at all from Chandler, or from Dashiell Hamm! ett." He does add, however, that Chandler and Hammett began a genre of their own, the private eye. Manuel RamosBROWN-ON-BROWN (2003)www.manuelramos.com

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