RARA-AVIS: Re: Hammett or Chandler

From: Moorich2@aol.com
Date: 02 Dec 2003

In a message dated 12/2/03 4:20:04 PM Eastern Standard Time, miker writes:

 Chandler made the PI more human. He borrowed the angst-ridden hero
 from Hemingway and applied it to hardboiled. Readers absolutely love
 their protagonists struggling against those inner demons. Hammett's
 Con Op was just too tough to be convincing, and when Hammett tried to
 make him more touchy-feely, like in THE DAIN CURSE, the results were
 less than satisfying.
 As Jim Doherty has mentioned, Chandler set a new standard for the PI,
 and that standard still stands today.

Actually, I find the Continental Op with his matter-a-fact toughness to be far more convincing than Philip Marlowe. Don't get me wrong, I love Chandler's romantic vision of the knight going down mean streets but I don't view that stylized world and character as more convincing. The best Op isn't to be found in the novels. Read the short stories and novelettes.

I do agree with Jim Doherty's opinion that Chandler has been the more influential--which is most certainly not to say I judge him as the superior writer.

On a separate note: Patrick Anderson reviewed Mickey Spillane's SOMETHING'S DOWN THERE in Monday's Washington Post. He went on at great length about being a Spillane fan from his youth and then, regretfully, panned the new novel. What I found unusual, and objectionable, is that he gave away the endings of both I, THE JURY and VENGEANCE IS MINE in the course of the review. Then after his pan of the new novel, he urged readers to search for tattered copies of the two earlier novels. The same novels he just tattled the endings. I think that's a bit odd.

Richard Moore

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