RARA-AVIS: Re: James M. Cain

From: Richard Moore ( moorich@aol.com)
Date: 01 Oct 2007

--- In rara-avis-l@yahoogroups.com, "jacquesdebierue"
<jacquesdebierue@...> wrote:

> Now some comments about the quality of Hammett's stories and
novels. I
> think Red Harvest, The Maltese Falcon and The Glass Key are all
> masterpieces. The Dain Curse reads like a series of pulp stories,
> nothing wrong with that. And The Thin Man is a good traditional
> mystery, not a masterpiece when compared to earlier and later
> writers, but respectable enough. The stories, in my opinion, are of
> very high quality, including my favorite hardboiled short story,
> Gutting of Couffignal. If Hammett had written nothing but short
> stories, he would be just as great a writer.

I agree with all of the above with the possible exception of "just" as I think Hammett's novels added to his reputation. But I agree that even without the novels, he would be ranked very highly.

> Sometimes I get the impression that readers value the novel much
> than the story; with me, it's the other way around. For example, I
> don't think Chandler ever surpassed his best stories with any of
> novels, good as they are. A long short like _Bay City Blues_ is a
> masterpiece of the genre. It's perfect. Its cannibalization did not
> improve it.
> Best,
> mrt

I agree with your high opinion of Chandler's novelettes but some of the novels--certainly THE LONG GOODBYE--rank among his best work.

Richard Moore

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