Re: RARA-AVIS: Hammett, Chandler and their influenc

Date: 24 Mar 2004


Re your comments below:

> I have always thought the Hammett wrote the most
> influention hardboiled novel with "The Maltese
> Falcon" and that Chandler the most influential
> body of hardboiled work with Marlowe.

I might put it that Hammett wrote the best-known hard-boiled novel with FALCON, and that Chandler created the most influential character, but I think we're on the same page there, if not necessarily on the same paragraph.
> That being said, I am one of the few people I
> know who thinks that most of Hammett's potboiler
> work--his long stories, his pieced together
> novels--are inferior in quality to many of those
> writers who came later--the MacDonalds, JDM and
> Ross, and the early Parker stuff--and also
> inferior to his work written as novels, like "The
> Glass Key," and "The Maltese Falcon."

Actually, THE GLASS KEY, like the three Op novels, was also a "pieced-together novel," in the sense that the serial installments that had appeared in BLACK MASK were written so that they could stand on their own as a short story. Hammett's only BLACK MASK serial that was written as a single, straightforward novel was FALCON. It's just that the seams are so expertly concealed that it's not nearly as clear as in, say, THE DAIN CURSE.

I like the Op novels despite their episodic nature. And each, in their way, have had almost as great an influence on the hard-boiled PI genre as FALCON. HARVEST was the first and best of the "town-tamer" PI novels, initiating a plot that is almost as common in PI fiction as the "detective avenges his murdered partner," "legendary historical object as Macguffin," or "detective falls in love with woman who turns out to be a murdereress" plots from FALCON. Halliday's A TASTE FOR VIOLENCE, Parker's PALE KINGS & PRINCES, Prather's THE SWEET RIDE, and Spillane's THE TWISTED THING all show the influence of HARVEST.

THE DAIN CURSE, with the Op trying to untangle the long-buried secrets of a seriously disfuntional family, of course prefigures the work of Macdonald and so many other tough PI's who made family therapy their particular specialty.
> Chandler, even in his stories was cool and
> methodical, working from a premise to a solution.
> Hammett was just bang, bang, shoot 'em up, with a
> cozy like gimick that solved all the problems.

Now there I have to seriously disagree with you. Reasonable arguments can be made over whose style was superior, but Hammett was clearly far better at plot construction, both in short stories and in novels, than Chandler. As for the "cozy" gimmick that solved everything, I take that to mean that the Op and Spade actually deduced solutions from the available clues, and I don't see that as a weakness.
> Reading "Red Harvest" was like a bumpy ride on a
> safari--sound and fury signifying nothing except
> a lot of dead things, in Hammett's case, people.

I'd say more like a bumpy ride on a rollercoaster, and again, I don't see that as a weakness, but as a strength.

__________________________________ Do you Yahoo!? Yahoo! Finance Tax Center - File online. File on time.

# Plain ASCII text only, please.  Anything else won't show up.
# To unsubscribe from the regular list, say "unsubscribe rara-avis" to
#  This will not work for the digest version.
# The web pages for the list are at .

This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : 24 Mar 2004 EST