In the beginning is the Book. And that moment in which Cain kills his brother Abel. In the blood of this fratricide, the Mediterranean gives us the first noir novel.
– Jean-Claude Izzo
“Cormac McCarthy’s novels are as innocent of theme and of ethical reference as they are of plot. On the other hand, each of them constitutes a densely created world as authentic and persuasive as any that there is in fiction. The worlds are convincing not because the people in them do normal and recognizable things, or represent us metaphorically, or even inhabit identifiable time and space, but because McCarthy compels us to believe in them through the traditional means of invention, command of language, and narrative art. To enter those worlds and move around in them effectively we are required to surrender all Cartesian predispositions and rediscover some primal state of consciousness prior to its becoming identified with thinking only. There is a powerful pressure of meaning in McCarthy’s novels, but the experience of significance does not translate into communicable abstractions of significance. … Ethical categories do not rule in this environment, or even pertain: moral considerations seem not to affect outcomes; action and event seem determined wholly by capricious and incomprehensible fates. His stories are lurid and simple; they seem oddly like paradigms without reference and are all the more compelling because of that, since the matter of the paradigm does not lose its particularity in abstraction. The characters–without utilitarian responsibilities to well-made plots and unrelated to our bourgeois better natures–are real precisely to the degree that they resist symbolization.” (Vereen M. Bell)
Interviewer: Do you think you offer a “surreal vision” of Montana, as one writer commented in a review in Time?
Crumley: Surreal?! I think part of the trouble is that nobody on either coastd really knows much about what goes on out here, so that it *seems* surreal to them. … I have a notion that New York and Washington and Los Angeles are really provincial places, that the true sophisticated cosmopolitan American lives somewhere in between. I find it difficult to think of people as civilized who don’t know how to change a tire. I don’t *like* to change tires, but at least I can.
Mr. James Crumley: “Oh, they had a buncha crap to say, but it sounded like television to me.”
Upon a re-read, I was surprised to discover just how plain mediocre TO HAVE & HAVE NOT is. I mean, I knew it wasn’t among Hem’s best novels, but I guess I still though Hem’s worse is still better than almost anyone else’s best. Nope.