Jim Thompson’s ‘The Getaway’ shows pulp fiction can be great literature

March 19th, 2012 by Zirk van den Berg § 3 comments § permalink

For much of the 20th Century, being innovative in art was a precondition for recognition, if not sufficient reason in itself. It was certainly the case in visual art. Novels, too, could not escape being judged on their novelty value.

What has come to interest me more than novelty is the possibility of doing something valuable within the canons of well-established art forms.  Can one, for instance, write a book within the constraints of pulp fiction that is also great literature? » Read the rest of this entry «

Five American crime writers to read before someone bashes your head in

May 13th, 2011 by Zirk van den Berg § 1 comment § permalink

You can start with Edgar Allan Poe if you like, but for me the story of American crime writing starts with Dashiell Hammett, who laid the egg that became the hard-boiled detective. Also he has such a dashing name, was by all accounts a noble (though often drunk) man and partner to Lillian Hellman. All good things.

Despite his historical importance, Hammett doesn’t make this list, I’m afraid. We’ll start with his first great disciple instead, the man who put crime back on the streets where it belongs, » Read the rest of this entry «

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