Best sentence I've read all day:
A bad whipping wind--
"Somewhere a screen door slammed with the protesting futility of a dying bird beating its wing."
Chandleresque to be sure but then Leigh Brackett never tried to disguise the debt her crime fiction owed to him. Brackett wrote a number of fine crime novels and stories--the quote is from "I Feel Bad Killing You"--as well as a great deal of science fantasy and a number of screenplays, most famously "The Big Sleep" with Wm. Falkner and Jules Furthman and the first draft of the third Star Wars.
A Tiger Among Us is my favorite of her crime novels though I like them all.
Interesting piece on Galleycat today about writers and the covers their books get. Publishers seem more comfortable covering a book with a painting that suggests a particular genre, even when the book itself doesn't belong in that genre. I understand the thinking behind this and to a degree I see it as a necessary evil. Books that fall between genres are probably harder to pitch to wholesale buyers, no matter their merit. (I guess--how the hell do I know?) But it does get ludicrous sometimes. I remember picking up a western novel that was pitched as an authentic tale of Kansas right after the Civil War. It was Gone With The Wind done by Monogram Studios.
I read the piece on the fiction of E. Howard Hunt in the NY Times today and found it moderately interesting. At the end Gore Vidal is quoted as saying that he and Truman Capote were up against Hunt in 1947 for a Guggenheim grant and that since he lost he's never had much faith in awards since.
In my college days I thought Vidal was a pretty cool guy. But as I've grown older I've realized two things about him. One, he is the same sort of person his arch enemy Wm. F. Buckley is--patrician, eliitist and totally irrelevant as an observer of how most of us live. And second, he is a terrible fiction writer. His coldness as a TV personality is all too much present in his fiction. I've never read a novel or a short story of his I thought was worthwhile. They're either political potboilers sanctified by the endless research he boasts of or they're stunts ala Myra Breckenridge.
I say this with all sincerity--Alfred Knopf was right to get excited about Hunt's two initial novels (Knopf published both of them). They are fine novels. And even his potboilers are better than Vidal's, though get ready for crazed conspiracy theories that will give you headaches and maybe even crabs.
This boy was ready for a padded cell long before he a) offered to parachute into Cuba wearing a red wig and assassinate Fidel Castro and b) decided the guy he wanted as his number two on the Watergate break-in was G. Gordon Liddy. (On that fateful night when they were a block from the Watergate, a cop car came along and Hunt and his henchmen ducked into a deep doorway. Liddy, afraid the cops might spot them, suggested they shoot out the streetlights. Cops never notice streetlights that get shot out when the squad car is about thirty feet away.)