Saturday, November 19, 2011

Hard-Boiled Brilliance

I’ve been thinking of doing this for a time. But always putting it off. Just want to post something about Raymond Chandler and James A. Cain. Cripes these blokes, man. I’d like to tell you about my religious experience reading them.

I’ve heard of Raymond Chandler, but couldn’t find his books after pillaging booksale shops for years. The first time I got acquainted with James A. Cain was reading an interview of James Ellroy. He said something about two and other so-called hard-boiled writers.

You see, he was not much of a Raymond Chandler fan. Said the writer’s overrated, not hard-boiled enough. If you want truly hard-boiled stuff, read Dashiell Hammett. Or James A. Cain. Now Cain wrote cool, doom stories about doom people in fucked up situations, yet happy about it.

When James Ellroy said those things, I nodded my head off, ignorant that I am. I haven’t read any books by Ellroy. I’ve tried but couldn’t continue to the second page. But what he said activated something in me. I have to find Raymond Chandler’s or James A. Cain’s or Dashiell Hammett’s books. All their books. And I have to look harder.

Then, oh pure joy! Almost had a heart attack when I found not just one but four books of Raymond Chandler. If you are a hard-boiled reader like me, you would be too. The gods were good to me when a month later I also discovered three novels of James A. Cain. So again remember that lesson, kids, if you want something really bad, try harder to get it. I haven’t found anything by Dashiell Hammett yet but I won’t give up. Maybe I’ll have to look ‘harderer’?

Raymond Chandler:
  • The Big Sleep
  • Farewell, My Lovely
  • The Lady in the Lake
  • The High Window

James A. Cain:
  • Serenade
  • Love’s Lovely Counterfeit
  • The Butterfly

The looking was long, the reading short

It took me several months to find them books. I finished reading them in a few weeks, a few blissful weeks. And James Ellroy was right about James A. Cain. Maybe I’ll try again to read L.A. Confidential and see what happens after first one. But he was utterly wrong about Raymond Chandler. The man’s underrated. Raymond Chandler is brutally brilliant.

Okay, I lied when I told you that this post is about my religious experience reading them. Perhaps that would be a nice post for another day. I want this one to be quick, sweet, short. So I’ll stop here. Still need to pillage bookshops some more and find me some Dashiell Hammett’s books. Now move along.

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