Cover image for Hardboiled mystery writers : Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett, Ross Macdonald : a literary reference
Hardboiled mystery writers : Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett, Ross Macdonald : a literary reference
Bruccoli, Matthew Joseph, 1931-2008.
First Carroll and Graf trade paperback edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Carroll & Graf Publishers, 2002.

Physical Description:
xi, 326 pages : illustrations ; 26 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PS374.D4 H375 1989 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
PS374.D4 H375 1989 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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The action is violent, the characters are tough, the atmosphere's dark, the tone impersonal, the speech colloquial, and the voice of the author, whatever his origins or background, authentically American. Hard-boiled crime fiction, which captured the national imagination in the bitter, hard-bitten 1930s and flourished for many decades after, is a leading example of endemically American literary prose. Certainly, in the work of Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett, and Ross Macdonald, which featured maverick, independent-minded private eyes like Philip Marlowe, Sam Spade, and Lew Archer, emerges a distinctively American kind of hero. Amply illustrated with personal photographs and with reproductions of manuscript pages, letters, print ads, movie promotions, dust jackets, and paperback covers, this volume provides a documentary chronicle of the life beyond and the work behind the creation of some of the most masterly detective novels in popular American literature. Correspondence and interviews record the literary tastes and intents of Chandler, Hammett, and Macdonald as well as their responses to judgments of their work in reviews of their books and the movies based on them. A generous selection of the reviews themselves conjure the larger literary climate of the times and provide the evaluations of influential contemporary critics--among them, the distinguished writer Eudora Welty, who initiated a reappraisal of the entire Macdonald canon. In all, this engaging, informative look at Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett, and Ross Macdonald and their hard-boiled detective novels offers in a single volume a wide variety of resources by which to view afresh a singularly American literary accomplishment.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Here is a treasure trove of original cover art, correspondence, and biographical and literary criticism focusing on the three major figures in twentieth-century "gat and gore" fiction: Chandler, Hammett, and Macdonald. Veteran critics and biographers Bruccoli and Layman have pooled their expertise to offer a perspective on the three writers, from inside and without. Each section opens with a listing of the author's major works, letters, and the location of archives. Then the sections move to the writers' own accounts of their lives, culled from letters, addresses, and notebooks. The reader will learn, for example, that Hammett's two favorite things about writing were, first, the words "Pay to the order of" and, second, the way his characters lived vividly for him in the weeks he wrote about them. Mixed in with the writers' own commentary are Bruccoli's and Layman's assessments and a wonderful assemblage of lurid print ads, dust jackets, and paperback covers. A valuable addition to the crime fiction reference shelf. --Connie Fletcher

Publisher's Weekly Review

Replete with photographs and reproductions"of manuscript pages, dust jackets, movie posters and advertisements"not to mention contemporary reviews, interviews, excerpts and biographical investigations, Hardboiled Mystery Writers takes a behind-the-gritty-streets look at the lives and times of Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett and Ross Macdonald. Matthew J. Bruccoli (whos an English professor and F. Scott Fitzgerald expert) and Richard Layman (The Letters of Dashiell Hammett) offer a slick reference book thats informative, highly readable (the poor SOB was never happy, they say of Chandler, in true hard-boiled style) and a must-have for all devotees of the genre. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

The father, son, and holy ghost of hardboiled whodunit writers are served up in this volume, which is essentially a full-text bibliography. Divided into three equal sections, the book presents each author through interviews, articles, excerpts from earlier studies lifted whole cloth, letters, reviews, and more. The text is buttressed with numerous author photos as well as illustrations from book jackets, posters and stills from films based on their work, and prints of pages from first editions and pulp magazines. Although this volume does not take the same tack as straight literary biography, the combination of elements provides a rounded view of these authors, who have been elevated to the ranks of America's literary elite. This is a solid supplement to literary biographies, edited by two experts on the genre, that only include excerpts or references to the materials appearing in full here. Highly recommended. Michael Rogers, "Library Journal" (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.