RARA-AVIS: Re: Chandler on Woolrich

From: Richard Moore ( moorich@aol.com)
Date: 03 Feb 2008

Very good points. Woolrich was fearless in taking the risks you mention and the overall risk of failing badly and looking a bit foolish. Now and then, the magic wasn't there enough to rush the reader past the coincidences and plot holes. But he certainly succeeded (at least for this reader) more often than not. Woolrich to me has an emotional, improvised feel. He's not reading notes from a score. He takes us deep into personal fear and suspense when its working well for him.

The other thing about Woolrich that I want to mention is that he is merciless. He had no series character and readers could not be certain that characters would come out well or survive at all.

Richard Moore

--- In rara-avis-l@yahoogroups.com, "jacquesdebierue"
<jacquesdebierue@...> wrote:
> 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
> 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
> the closet, since the closet is empty, but it doesn't matter.
> Best,
> mrt

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