RARA-AVIS: Re: Parker as an Influence

From: Kevin Burton Smith ( kvnsmith@thrillingdetective.com)
Date: 20 Apr 2008

John Shannon wrote:

> Yes, you can pick the very sentence where Chandler stops and Parker
> starts.
> Too bad. Fifty writers (or so) could have done a creditable job
> completing
> Poodle Springs.

And probably would have been as routinely slammed for it as well. A short story is one thing, but completing an unfinished novel by someone so beloved and with such a distinctive voice?

I doubt anyone could have escaped unscathed, and particularly Parker, who was already going through a bit of a backlash as evidenced by the
(possibly green-tinged) potshots that had started to pop up in books by other P.I. writers by that time.

But at the time, Parker was probably the right man for the job, given his widespread popularity, the obvious Chandler influence, and because POODLE SPRINGS dealt with something nobody had seen before: a married Marlowe. At the time, Spenser was about the only private eye around involved in anything like a permanent relationship, so the choice of Parker was probably a no-brainer.

Not there are a lot of P.I.s with significant others even now. Though your character, Jack Liffey, is a serial monogamist, involved in a series of messy but mostly monogamous relationships.

Though, come to think of it, you trotted out Marlowe yourself in one of the Liffey books, didn't you? An older, crankier Marlowe, living up in the hills, bitching about -- who else? -- Chandler.

I loved it.

But hey, I also liked POODLE SPRINGS. Neither your Marlowe nor Parker's (or Altman's, for that matter) was Chandler's, but they were all still recognizable on some level; they were more like good covers of a favourite song.

I think, in cases like this, I prefer personal, honest interpretations to hollow, slavish imitations. They seem more honest, somehow.

It will be interesting to see how people treat Joe Gores when he refries Hammett's beans. Gores has never been as successful or as prolific as Parker, so maybe he'll be cut some slack.

Kevin Burton Smith www.thrillingdetective.com

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