Thursday, October 20, 2011

Derek Raymond, Raymond Chandler, and Dashiell Hammett

He was a latter-day Hammett, I thought when I read Derek Raymond's I Was Dora Suarez. He was a new Chandler, I thought when I read the opening chapters of Raymond's The Devil's Home on Leave.

With one novel-plus of Raymond under my belt, I say he's a bit of both. His nameless detective-sergeant protagonist is as dedicated to his job as was Sam Spade or the Continental Op, and he yearns like Philip Marlowe, only there's not a trace of nostalgia about him. He's as hard and as heart-breaking as the best of the dark crime writers who followed him and who invoke his name as reverently as they do Hammett's and Chandler's.

Visit the Melville House Books web site to see what Raymond had to say about his predecessors and what some of today's finest dark crime writers say about him.

© Peter Rozovsky 2011



Anonymous May said...

Melville House has put some great covers on Raymond's books. A good example of having clever, visually stimulating covers for less (because there only appears to be 3 or 4 colors, I imagine its cheaper to print).

October 20, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I'd noticed precisely that: that Melville offers striking covers for what probably was a low cost. They're really just two colors, orange and white, with the barest hint of red on some. I'm not even sure if the shadows are black, or just a darker shade of orange.

October 20, 2011  
Anonymous Elisabeth said...

I sometimes think that if Chandler had begun writing crime fiction, say, 25 years sooner, and hadn’t succumbed to alcoholism (impossible ifs, I know) I think his writing would have become more like that of Derek Raymond’s Factory novels. Angrier, more frustrated, less maudlin. Neither Raymond nor Chandler pretended they hadn’t had a classical education and used their command of the English language to create sometimes beautiful, heartbreaking, almost poetic prose under some of the ugliest plot circumstances. Passages that readers can bring to mind long after finishing a novel.

I found a copy of Raymond’s The Crust on Its Uppers in a San Diego bookstore over the weekend (along with several other goodies) and although I understand it is not a Factory novel, I’m looking forward to reading more Raymond.

Am almost finished with Raymond’s memoirs, The Hidden Files, which I recommend to anyone wanting to read more about the “black” novel.

And, yes, those minimalist Melville House covers are very fine. Out of the ordinary (shadowy male figures pointing large weapons at the potential reader; or no figures, just pointing weapons--gad, how tiresome!).

I want to try one of those Kurkov novels featuring a penguin character, too.

Of course, I'm looking forward to MH's publication of the 5th factory novel, Next month, I believe...?

October 20, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Elisabeth, did you listen to the clip of Raymond reading? He probably has a bit of declamatory or stage experience in his past.

I'm not sure what Melville's publication schedule is. I'll check their Web site.

"Angrier, more frustrated, less maudlin."

Hmm, maybe The Little Sister would them be regarded as a rough draft of that hypothetical angry, less maudlin Chandler novel.

October 20, 2011  
Anonymous Elisabeth said...

He probably has a bit of declamatory or stage experience in his past.

In his memoirs he periodically mentions reciting long poems from memory to himself while washing the dishes or puttering in the garden. He was also, apparently, a fine singer.

October 20, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I'd believe that. He had a fine reading voice.

October 20, 2011  

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