RARA-AVIS: Re: Question about Raymond Chandler: Two Ladies in the Lake?

From: JIM DOHERTY ( jimdohertyjr@yahoo.com)
Date: 15 Aug 2007


Re your question below:

"This reminds me. I've long wondered why Chandler's first story, Blackmailers Never Shoot, wasn't included in Simple Art of Murder. Do you happen to know why?"

"Blackmailers Don't Shoot," Chandler's first story, and the first of two to feature a Chicago PI transplanted to LA named Mallory, wasn't included in TSAM because, quite simply, Chandler didn't think much of it. In a letter to a friend years later, he described it as "pure pastiche," by which he meant it was derivative with little of his own voice.

He didn't think too much higher of the sequel,
"Smart-Aleck Kill," either. But he thought it enough of an improvement that he did include it in the collection, though with the character's name changed from Mallory to John Dalmas (causing untold confusion to later scholars). Besides, even if it wasn't THAT much of an improvement, the beginning was an illustration of a point he made about pulp fiction in the collection's intoduction, "When in doubt, have a man with a gun come through the front door."

In that same letter, he said that "Finger Man," his third story, and the first to feature the character who would eventually come to be named "Philip Marlowe," was the first in which he began to find his own unique style.


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