Re: RARA-AVIS: Macdonald, Hammet, Chandler, Compassion, et al

From: E.Borgers (
Date: 05 Dec 2004

Rob Henryson, Fortunately, your previous messages about RM were well on target and put RM in better perspective, sparing me the hassle to document and to repeat again and again what I stated many times on this list: Ross Macdonald is an overrated writer. And this is certainly more true when some continue to preach that Hammett, Chandler and Ross are the strong base (even founders) of the HB/noir genre... RM comes only on a second level and is founder of nothing. Influences, maybe... But let us be cynical for a while: who is the very successful writer that never had copycats or "strongly influenced" writers just after his sales successes? Quality of writing against Chandler: Ross has not a single change to win ... I'm myself also one of those who just open any Chandler's novels at any page and fall under the magic of his style of writing. I do this since years. Then Ross and his eternal cabinet full of family skeletons, or heavy psychological exercises, found along a great number of his novels, does not struck me to see him as an innovator in story telling or intrigues neither. He's better than average, a good writer, but not an exceptional one.

I think that the troika of American founders and source of many influences, should be made with James M. Cain. He linked to the naturalistic lit sources and accentuated the noir aspect of the HB genre, and he's from the early days as well (The Postman Always Rings Twice-1934). Practically anything that will follow in the HB/noir lit genre will owe something to Hammett, Chandler or Cain, or to a mix of these three. On the other hand I agree to say that James Cain could write real lemons, but when he was good... he was very good!

Anyway, a very interesting thread by Avians about RM!

E.Borgers Hard-Boiled Mysteries Polar Noir

rob henryson :

>Despite my stated aversion to RM, I'm looking forward to reading him as part of a
>community of (ridiculously knowledgable and opinionated) readers. I vote for whatever
>y'all think is his best, though I've *read* THE CHILL and pray to god it's not *really* his
>best. Black Money sounds great. But I'd roll the dice on Zebra or Galton or Far Side or Ivory
>too. My personal top choice would be THE WAY SOME PEOPLE DIE, but only because my
>Pocket Books version has an incredibly hot cover that makes me want to know what's
>Nothing post 1970, please. I just have a bad feeling.

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This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : 05 Dec 2004 EST