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Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Was Crime Writer Raymond Chandler A Literary Novelist?

The fact that some genre writers write better than some of their literary counterparts doesn't automatically consecrate their books. Although a simile by Raymond Chandler and by the legion of his imitators is the difference between a live wire and a wet noodle, Chandler's novels are not quite literature. The assessment is Chandler's own, tendered precisely because he was literary. "To accept a mediocre form and make something like literature out of it is in itself rather an accomplishment." So it is. And there are a number of such accomplishments by the likes of Patricia Highsmith, Charles McCarry, Ruth Rendell, P.D. James, Donald Westlake, Lawrence Block, and dozens of others.

Arthur Krystal, The New Yorker, October 24, 2012 

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