Posts tagged The Moving Target

Here’s some literature porn to brighten your Monday morning.  I found some pretty neat hardboiled paperbacks last week.  Included in the haul were some great fictional PIs: Kenzie and Gennaro, Travis McGee, Shell Scott and V.I. Warshawski.  

But the real prizes were a couple rare finds.  I ran across a movie tie-in edition of Ross Macdonald’s The Moving Target, renamed Harper to match the 1966 Paul Newman film.  Even better was a slim pulp anthology from 1957.  Dolls are Murder not only has a great ring to it, it also has a great pulp cover.  It not only features some of my favorite pulp/hardboiled scribes in Raymond Chandler and John D. MacDonald, it has some stories from authors I’ve been wanting to read, like Brett Halliday.  

They just don’t make ‘em like the used to—the authors or the books.

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Anonymous said: Your opinion on Ross MacDonald? What are his best novels/short story collections?

I wish I knew more about Ross Macdonald (who also published as John Macdonald and John Ross Macdonald—not to be confused with fellow hardboiled scribe John D. MacDonald) than I do.  He was once regarded as the third member of the hardboiled trinity—Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler being the other two. 

Harper is a fine movie based on Macdonald’s first Lew Archer novel, The Moving Target.  I’ve also read The Underground Man and liked it.  I need to watch The Drowning Pool (sequel to Harper) still. 

Macdonald is currently underappreciated, or so his admirers insist.  His literary reputation is certainly not what it was.  Macdonald (who had a PhD in literature) was attempting to bolster hardboiled crime fiction’s literary value.  Macdonald (born Kenneth Millar and husband of novelist Margaret Millar) has a very strong Freudian undercurrent running through his novels. 

I find that Macdonald’s writing (and I include Harper in this general category) has a very different, more intellectual tone that Hammett or Chandler.  This is not to say it is better or worse.  I have not read as much Macdonald as I would like to—or as much as I intend to.  But I find he doesn’t have quite the hardboiled edge that Chandler does.  But then again, who else is really comparable to Chandler?  Still, I think Ross Macdonald might better be qualified as one of the leading lesser lights than as the natural successor to Hammett and Chandler.

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The bottom is loaded with nice people, Albert. Only cream and bastards rise.
Paul Newman in Harper

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