|Yeah, we need more critics like this!|
Chandler: a brilliant stylist and author of some
massively overrated books
“I conceived the idea of Bloody Murder in 1970 after ending a ten-year stint as crime reviewer for The Sunday Times. I gave it up chiefly because I knew I was becoming stale, so that my reaction on seeing a parcel of new books was not the appropriate slight quickening of the pulse marking the hope of a masterpiece. (…) I had always reviewed crime stories with the freedom I used in writing about other books, recording triumphs and disasters with candour. But I was a founding member of the Crime Writers Association, and although those who turn their pens to crime are by and large genial figures, some of them were indignant at what they considered a kind of treachery. There was even an abortive move to expel me until such a time as I wrote helpful rather than harmful reviews. It is my experience that you can say in print a poet is no good and he will slap you on the shoulder at next meeting and say what a fool you are, but if you make a similar comment about a crime writer he may say nothing but will be deeply wounded. On this ground too, therefore, it seemed a good idea to give up crime reviewing.
“On the other hand I felt, and feel today, irritation at the blandness with which this occupation is carried on. I like praise for my crime stories as much as the next man or woman, but how can one take seriously warm words written about one’s own new book, when the same crime column contains equally warm words about half a dozen other books, some of which are revealed at a cursory glance as being inferior to the standard article? Such praise may please publishers, but cancels itself out for a writer.”