RARA-AVIS: Re: Chandler on Woolrich

From: jacquesdebierue ( jacquesdebierue@yahoo.com)
Date: 03 Feb 2008

Richard, thanks for these Chandler quotes. I can see why Chandler would notice Woolrich's impressive technique. And also, given how Chandler controlled his material (in the stories, which are his main work, in my opinion), how he would find fault with Woolrich's devil may care approach. With each story and novel, Woolrich was taking a risk, the risk of credibility and the risk that his mastery at creating fear would not work. In my experience, it mostly did work.

And Chandler is right that Woolrich is about "ideas" rather than plots. He is one the great inventors in crime fiction (with Fredric Brown, Charles Willeford, Jim Thompson and a few others). The gimmicks he invented tap into a vast well of fear that we all carry inside. That is his genius. Plausibility doesn't matter. We carry the fear from early childhood, an age at which plausibility has nothing to do with it. You can tell the kid that the monster couldn't possibly be in the closet, since the closet is empty, but it doesn't matter.



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