RARA-AVIS: Re: James M. Cain

From: Richard Moore ( moorich@aol.com)
Date: 28 Sep 2007

You've got it right Dave. In my opinion, the Continental Op stories rank as one of the best series ever and, certainly, at or near the top in influence. If I had to choose between the Op stories and the Hammett novels, the Op stories would win hands-down. They did as much to create the sub-genre that this list celebrates as any other single body of work--and yes that includes Chandler and Cain.

A side note, a couple of recent posts, including Patrick King's below, seem to count count speed of composition against a work of fiction. All that matters is what is on the page. Did Hammett turn out fast copy to make a living, sure, but does anyone believe Jim Thompson, celebrated by Patrick as the equal to Cain, wasn't producing at a high rate as he churned out several novels a year for Lion Books? Some were fine novels and others were failures but good or bad, they were not the result of long gestation.

Finally, most of Cain's novels are great novels??? Please!!! And the worst of his novels were the ones he labored the longest to produce. As William DeAndrea noted it may have been the "...compulsive rewriting (he once said no one who wasn't prepared to rewrite a manuscript twenty-five times could call himself a serious writer)skimmed off any freshness in his later work before the public got to see it."

Richard Moore

--- In rara-avis-l@yahoogroups.com, "Dave Zeltserman" <dz@...> wrote:
> Patrick,
> I could not disagree more with you about the Continental Op which
> consider some of the best crime fiction written. Btw. You left out
> Harvest which has made a number of best 100 book lists, including
> Magazines.
> --Dave
> --- In rara-avis-l@yahoogroups.com, Patrick King <abrasax93@>
> >
> > All of Cain's books are interesting and most of them
> > are great novels. While Hammett's The Thin Man & The
> > Maltese Falcon are great books, the others tell the
> > breakneck speed he wrote at. The Glass Key, The Dane's
> > Curse are pretty awful in my opinion, and the
> > Continental Op is a cartoon. I would say Cain's only
> > equal is Jim Thompson. They're, of couse, much
> > different stylists, but their quaility is consistent
> > from book to book.
> >
> > Patrick King
> > --- Dave Zeltserman <dz@> wrote:

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