Friday, June 19, 2009

Forgotten Book: CHANDLER -- William Denbow

Another book that's deservedly forgotten. But that doesn't mean it's not interesting. William Denbow no doubt wanted to capitalize on the success of Joe Gores' Hammett, which came out a couple of years before Chandler. I mean, if it worked for Gores, why not for Denbow. But he decided to double your pleasure by presenting both Hammett and Raymond Chandler in the same novel.

Hammett is drunk and sick, and he's being threatened by a killer. He needs help, and who better than to strap on a gun and come to his aid than Ray Chandler? Well, okay, maybe Chandler's not your idea of a tough guy, but this is fiction. Anything goes.

The blurb on the back cover is from Peter McCurtin, who says, "A wild idea but it works. The writing is smooth, the action violent." The last statement is true. Everything else is a lie, including the words "a" and "the." (You know who I stole that from, right?) The writing is awful, and the idea doesn't work at all. If you want to find out why Hammett was such a success, read Chandler, where everything goes wrong. Instead being published by a big-name hardover house, Chandler came from Belmont-Tower, one of the really low-end paperback publishers.

Of course I could be wrong about this. Chandler could be an undiscovered classic. You'll have to read it and decide for yourself.

8 comments:

Max Allan Collins said...

And the cover is a lie, too -- that's not Chandler, it's Ralph Byrd as Dick Tracy!

David Cranmer said...

Bill, That's your best review yet. I'm still chuckling.

Scott Parker said...

[chuckle] Now THAT's a good review. Interesting note on Word Verification: frock. Too bad it wasn't 'fraud.'

Juri said...

So, where did you steal that line from? Did Denbow write anything else?

The Word: "rountryo".

Todd Mason said...

Bill Pronzini included this one in GUN IN CHEEK, as I recall (or was it SON OF GUN IN CHEEK?)

Mary McCarthy, Juri, was not the most forgiving of literary figures, particulary when faced with what she saw as Hammett-buddy Lillian Hellman's prevarication. (Being Edmund Wilson's wife would be enough to make anyone irritable, even if Hellman wasn't Really Good at infotainment.)

Dan said...

I remeber buying it at a grocery when it first came out, and I remember thinking it wasn't awful, but that's all I remember-- I'm afraid I was quite drunk at the time. Maybe you should try reading it under the influence and see if it improves.

Bill Crider said...

Dan, I think I'll pass on that one. I'm not sure anything would improve the book.

Todd and Juri, I couldn't resist stealing that bit from Mary McCarthy. And since she wrote it about Hellman, it seemed to fit.

pattinase (abbott) said...

I love to remember books that are "not quite" classics. Same applies to movies.