Chandler was a maestro of hard-boiled detective literature – and Carver brought suburban noir-realism to the American short story. Both writers mastered American lingo, character and the backwater emotional landscapes of the Promised Land. Both men pretty much drank themselves into the graves. Writers. Sagas of two Americans who traversed the nether land of fame and publishing world. Critics – Hollywood – fortune – loss – redemption. Marriage ups and downs. Drink. The carny wheel spins round: Drunk. Sober. Drying Out. Off the wagon. Under the wagon. They wrote their way through all of it. Chandler (after he was dead of course) was slagged by some fellow writers, including popular novelist Joyce Carol Oates – who declared Chandler and his detective Marlowe: “racist and misogynist.” Oh, Christ, please. New York critics deemed Carver’s work dreary and depressing. Welcome to the world of high brow, arch-political correctness and snobbery. Look out, folks; here comes the “new fiction!” The children of Joyce Carol Oates. Boring me to tears. But ah, Chandler and Carver…it’s a reminder of the work; then the later criticism of Hemingway –Hem’s work may seem dated to some; overly macho to others; out of date and style. But much of it will last because it was made with an artist’s honesty and passion; an accurate ear, a proven B.S. detector; and a whittled character that is lacking in much of today’s fiction. Style. But, oh mama, the morally-toned snobs love to kick the old lions when they’re down or dead.
–Tom Russell, from Knife Thrower’s Sonata