Re: RARA-AVIS: The Chandler / Hammett Ellroy-inspired debate

From: jacquesdebierue (
Date: 19 Jun 2010

  • Next message: James Michael Rogers: "Re: RARA-AVIS: The Chandler / Hammett Ellroy-inspired debate"

    --- In, Patrick Kennedy <pbjk2004@...> wrote:

    > Fun with the writing is actually an important aspect of his style; Chandler, when he still had the energy and mental resources to indulge it, loved the actual writing process and the writing as writing.  Actually, thinking about that, maybe the aspects I enjoy about Chandler are the very things which Ellroy and others have come to dislike: the metaphors, similes, bon mots and wisecracks; the marshalling of language to create character and atmosphere, and sometimes even for language's sake alone.
    > Incidentally, Chandler would brook no criticism of Hammett by others, or of Hemingway either, even though he did have the temerity to have Marlowe nickname one hood Hemingway due to his habit of repeating himself over and over in the hope of convincing others that what he was saying was good.  He ceded everything to Hammett as a benign and improving influence on the genre they both wrote in, although on the one occasion on which they met he seems to have been too reticent to express his admiration, or indeed to discuss the many things they both had in common.

    While Chandler does indulge himself in writing per se, particularly in the novels, he does move things along. It's when a writer doesn't keep the ball rolling storywise that one starts to really notice the writerliness, and then it becomes a serious problem. A guy who writes for the sake of hearing himself write is not particularly admirable. I other words, quality is not about "prose" but about the story and what benefits the story.

    I do agree with Chandler that his best novel is The Long Goodbye, and by a wide margin. Among the short stories there is a lot of gold. One that I regard very highly is the novelette Bay City Blues, later cannibalized but very worth reading in its original form. It was available in the Killer in the Rain collection of cannibalized stories.



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