Re: RARA-AVIS: Re: James M. Cain

From: Patrick King (
Date: 30 Sep 2007

I don't know where I suggested that speed of composition was a bad thing or denigrated any writer for writing fast. I beleive Hammett wrote The Maltese Falcon non stop over 72 hours and that is the top of this genre.

I simply disagree with you about Cain's lesser known work. I'm pretty sure I've read all of his available work and I think it's great writing. I loved Love's Lovely Counterfeit, can't think of a better, less convoluted look at small-town corruption. Yes, the work he researched hardest seemed to sell least well. He told his biographer, Roy Hoopes, that the books that made him the most money as books were the ones that were plot driven. The character driven stories didn't sell as well. I think that's a good observation. He made a lot of money from the film of Mildred Pierce, but the novel did not sell as well. It is, nonetheless, a brilliant personality study. Cain's prose is a pleasure to read. From reading Hoopes bio, I think he took himself too seriously and paid too much attention to what his relatives thought about his writing. He should have stayed in California and concentrated on crime fiction. Still, no one has written better than Postman, Double Indemnity, and Serenade. I also loved his last book, The Enchanted Isle, his take on the run away drug culture of the 1960s. To me, Cain is unsurpassed.

Patrick King
--- Richard Moore <> wrote:

> 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, "Dave
> Zeltserman" <dz@...> wrote:
> >
> > Patrick,
> >
> > I could not disagree more with you about the
> Continental Op which
> I
> > consider some of the best crime fiction written.
> Btw. You left out
> Red
> > Harvest which has made a number of best 100 book
> lists, including
> Time
> > Magazines.
> >
> > --Dave
> >
> >
> > --- In, Patrick King
> <abrasax93@>
> wrote:
> > >
> > > 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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