By Brian Docherty
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Additional info for American Crime Fiction: Studies in the Genre
This too began as a commission for a Henry Luce publication; this time it was Fortune magazine, which sent Agee and Evans to spend July and August 1936 with the families of three white tenant 26 American Crime Fiction farmers in Alabama. Fortune turned down the article, and Agee's revised and expanded text and Evans's photographs were not finally published until 1941. In the Preface, Agee explains that The nominal subject is North American cotton tenantry as examined in the daily living of three representative white tenant families.
34 It's that last line, the wisecracking simile of the tarantula on a slice of angel food, that is so characteristic of Chandler's writing and that enables him to make Philip Marlowe's consciousness, in James Agee's phrase, the subject as well as the governing instrument of each book. Like Agee, like Isherwood, like Hemingway, Chandler insists that the force of the objective, documentary vision is that it stems from an intensely personal effort of perception. While Chandler claimed that the purpose of the simile is 'to convey at once a simple visual image', his best lines tell us as much about the imagination which created them as they do about what they describe.
54. Raymond Chandler, The Lady in the Lake (1944); Octopus edn (London: Heinemann, 1977) p. 316. ), The World of Raymond Chandler (London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1977) p. 72. Robert Montgomery's decision to reduce the film to the simple equation of private eye and camera eye has a parallel in an earlier English contribution to the documentary detective story. In 1936, Dennis Wheatley and J. G. Links published Murder Off Miami, the first of four' detective dossiers'. As the Author's Note rightly boasted, We have pleasure in presenting to the public, between these covers, what we believe to be an entirely new departure in Crime Fiction.
American Crime Fiction: Studies in the Genre by Brian Docherty