Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Saudades do America

(Landscape with aqueduct and
laundry; Évora, Portugal)
I chose classic American crime fiction to read on this European trip, and:

  • After reading Double Indemnity, Fast One, and, on this trip, Seven Slayers for the second time, I still maintain that the best American crime writer named Cain was Paul.
  • The 1945/46 movie version of The Big Sleep may have brought together the most impressive collection of talent ever assembled for a movie. Possibly Hollywood's greatest director (Howard Hawks) giving orders to possibly Hollywood's greatest star (Humphrey Bogart) and a perfect supporting cast. A Nobel Prize winner (William Faulkner) and a talented novelist/screenwriter (Leigh Brackett) sharing writing credit,  It's a hell of a movie. And Raymond Chandler's novel is still better.
  • Don't get me started on the radio script of The Thin Man.
© Peter Rozovsky 2011

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Anonymous Elisabeth said...


Ha! We just got back a couple of days ago from about 3 weeks in Sicily. I'm sure you're as ready to hop on a plane back to Portugal as I am to Sicily! I, too, took a few vintage crime fiction novels along with me. The simple fact of reading quintessentially American fiction in a "foreign" setting creates a mood that both enhances and clarifies both the novel and the setting. I'm not making my self very clear, but I know what you mean in another comment written during your trip... There you are sipping a coffee or a glass of wine and overlooking an ancient temple, the facade of a Medieval cathedral, or whatever, and reading Charles Williams's Hell Hath No Fury--you seem to enjoy both book and site even more. It's hard to explain...

Has Paul Cain overtaken Dashiell Hammett in your estimation?

December 09, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Nobody could overtake Hammett in my estimation, and even if Paul Cain could, he didn't write enough. But I did start reading The Big Sleep again and was reminded how superlatively good Chandler was.

December 09, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I don't mind being back in Philadelphia, but the job is...well, as my colleagues remind me, you are lucky to have a job. Don't worry about what you can't control.


Yeah, I'm ready to hop a plane back to Portugal, if only to see the rock carvings at Foz Coa and the Roman ruins at Coimbra. And to eat some more roast lamb and pasteis de nata. And to drink more aged tawny port, my new tipple of choice.

December 09, 2011  
Anonymous Elisabeth said...

aged tawny port, my new tipple of choice

Ah, well, so much for Hendricks Gin.

Unfortunately, I drank enough (read: too much) port during my "junior year abroad" to last (prolly) a lifetime. I didn't even drink any when I was in Lisbon in Sept.

If you have developed a liking for aged tawny port... Have you tried banyuls? If not, I very much recommend you try it, esp. on a cold, blustery Phila. night as that was the weather and the place I was introduced to it. Very nice, maybe SW France's take on Portugal's port. At Philadelphia's Capital Grille (yikes, I hated to even type that "grill-ee").

December 09, 2011  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I read just today that France is the largest consumer of port in the world. And the jovial proprietor of the Vinelogia port-wine bar in Portp is French. So maybe a French take on port might be worth a taste. But yes, maybe I'll develop a convention index based on the cost of 40-year-aged tawny port.

That bar makes a fine destination for anyone curious about port. It offers a number of tasting options, starting from about ten euros, and the staff are happy to answer questions in at least three languages.

The bar is in Porto's Ribeira district, a World Heritage site. A few years ago I tallied up the nuber of such sites I had visited. I should do so again, as I visited a few more the past two weeks.

December 09, 2011  

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