RARA-AVIS: Cain Line

From: Juri Nummelin ( juri.nummelin@postikaista.net)
Date: 07 Dec 2004


"However, you've set up an unfair contrast to make your point. You are comparing the best of the Cain line with the worst of the Hammett/Chandler would-be heirs. Cain and his more worthy followers have also had a lot of crappy imitators, full of gratuitous viciousness and overdoses of misogyny, bad imitations of the surface traits without offering any of the substance beneath. "

Yes, you're right, but I also do feel that the best imitators of Chandler and Hammett are less interesting than the writers who were imitating Cain.

This said I can't really place someone like James Ellroy into this pattern. He started off with Chandler/Macdonald, but became something else. There are also number of very good authors who don't fit into either category, even though have been influenced by either or both (for example Pelecanos).

"From what I hear, Thompson and Cain themselves wrote a number of bad books late in their careers (I've only read the good, earlier stuff by each)."

Yes, I've gathered as much. Thompson's "The Alcoholics" from early sixties was pretty bad and I've read that the books didn't actually get better.

Dave Z:

you are much more read in the genre than I am. Thanks for your message about Thompson, Faulkner etc.


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