RARA-AVIS: Leo Malet

From: Mark Sullivan ( DJ-Anonyme@webtv.net)
Date: 27 Jul 2003

I'm about half way through Leo Malet's first, 120 Rue de Gare, from 1943. I'm really enjoying it, but I have a few questions:

The little bio in the front of the Pan translation wrote: "In 1943, inspired by the American writers Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett, he created Nestor Burma, . . ." How well distributed were Hammett and Chandler in France? Sure, Hammett came out earlier, but Chandler's first novel, The Big Sleep, came out in 1939. Did it really get translated and distributed in France at the beginning of the war? The book talks a lot about rationing. Wasn't paper rationed, too? Did the pulps with Chandler's earlier stories make it to France?

There is also a gap in Malet's bio between 1940 and 1943. Was he, perhaps, a POW as his hero is at the beginning of this book?

Finally, is there really a rue Alfred-Jarry in Lyon? Or is it just a former surrealist's nod to the author of the Ubu plays (one of which was much later adopted as the name of the great punk band Pere Ubu)? I mean a major plot point revolves around the bibliography of another surrealist favorite, the Marquis de Sade.


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