Re: RARA-AVIS: Another Heresy -- The Black Mask and other pulp fiction

From: Dennis Lynds (
Date: 07 May 2005


> > Golly, the town-tamer plot as you call it has to have been around
> since the
> > Greeks.
> Maybe, but so what? Hammett still gets full credit for making it one
> of the standard plots for PI fiction.
> You might as well say that the "quest object" plot goes back to
> Malory's stories of King Arthur, or that the hero falling in love
> with someone who turns out to be the villainess goes back to Samson
> in the Old Testament. Does that make THE MALTESE FALCON any less
> influential?

>In the first place, Jim, the fact that a writer uses a plot, an old one at
that, and it seems to be "borrowed" by subsequent writers, doesn't make him influential. The plot could have come from many more recent sources---Westerns, for example---as well as ancient ones. The plot is not what makes a writer influential, the variations he does on it, the ambience of the book, and the style do. Any influence comes from how the writer goes about telling this plot. Hammett's influence came from HOW he wrote, not what he wrote.

A note on that: Slavish recreating of Hammett's world, plots, society, and even dialogue and slang, by later writers is pure imitation not influence.

> However, just to show that I'm not always in disagreement with you, I
> quite concur that Kane Jackson is one of your best characters. In
> fact, except for Dan Fortune himself, Jackson is my favorite of all
> your PI characters, probably because he's the most Continental Op-
> like of them (though the relentlessly objective third person
> narration you use in the Jackson series is more reminiscent of Sam
> Spade and FALCON). And you're also right about A DARK POWER being
> one of your best books.

Thank you much for the kind words about the Jackson series by Willian Arden, and about A DARK POWER, and while I would like to accept the comparison to Hammetts distant third in FALCON, my third is nowhere near as rigorous as Hammett's---there isn't one moment when we are privy to what Sam is thinking except through actions and dialogue. That is a tour de force of writing, and I never came close. (Didn't really want to, I'm not Hammett.)

Best again,

Dennis-Michael etc.

------------------------ Yahoo! Groups Sponsor --------------------~--> Has someone you know been affected by illness or disease? Network for Good is THE place to support health awareness efforts!

RARA-AVIS home page:
  Yahoo! Groups Links

<*> To visit your group on the web, go to:

<*> To unsubscribe from this group, send an email to:

<*> Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to:

This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : 07 May 2005 EDT