RARA-AVIS: Chandler course comments

From: Michael Robison ( miker_zspider@yahoo.com)
Date: 12 Apr 2004

I took Jim Doherty's course at Barnes and Noble on Chandler and I thought I'd weigh in on it. The reading list covers Chandler's early works and includes several short stories and three novels. Jim went to considerable trouble to write a lot of essays on the various aspects of Chandler's works.

The thing I liked most about Jim's essays is that he offers sharp insights into Chandler's works, delivered in a straightforward no-nonsense style, without a bunch of obscure literary mumbo jumbo. The essays are intelligent and enjoyable and I left the class with a better appreciation of Chandler and, I think, a better foundation on which to read more Chandler.

I had one reservation before taking the class. I know that Jim tends to be, ummm, somewhat opinionated, and I was wondering how he would deal with views that ran counter to his. It turned out that in the class Jim encouraged dissenting views and was very open-minded.

The only problem that I would mention is that there is a tremendous amount of assigned reading. I was lucky that I had already read two of the novels, and I still didn't make it to the last novel, HIGH WINDOW. I did read all the short stories (I read Goldfish a while ago) though, and Jim's directions in what to look for added to my appreciation. Even the one or two I didn't particularly care for were still worthwhile in showing the evolution of Chandler's style.

A great class, Jim. Thanks for all the hard work you put into it.


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