Re: RARA-AVIS: Text of a Ross Macdonald letter (from 1976):

From: Mario Taboada (
Date: 04 Dec 2003

It's curious (ironic, too, in the context of this discussion) that Ross Macdonald progressively resembled Hammett rather than Chandler. In fact, his Chandlerism faded in a few years. By the time of The Goodbye Look, say, he was writing in full Hammett style (differences in temperament aside, of course). I can easily imagine Hammett writing something similar had he been alive and active in the late sixties.

Chandler probably disliked Macdonald because he came to fame while Chandler was struggling --and the imitation in those early books is too striking to ignore. Yet Macdonald's strength, which is Hammett's, was not the creation of unforgettable scenes but the creation of an organic story of compassionate cynicism.

I have been reading a lot of Hammett's stories; I would not now say that the Op is totally cynical. He is an ordinary guy, with fairly normal standards of decency. The world he lives in is ugly, and he never argues with it. Instead, he acts.



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