By Peter Swirski

Peter Swirski appears to be like at American crime fiction as an artform that expresses and displays the social and aesthetic values of its authors and readers. As such he records the manifold ways that such authorship and readership are a question of educated literary selection and never of cultural brainwashing or declining literary criteria. Asking, in influence, a chain of questions on the character of style fiction as artwork, successive chapters examine American crime writers whose careers throw gentle at the risks and rewards of nobrow site visitors among well known kinds and intellectual aesthetics: Dashiell Hammett, John Grisham, William Faulkner, Ernest Hemingway, Raymond Chandler, Ed McBain, Nelson DeMille, and F. Scott Fitzgerald.

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My bet is, however, that crime fiction—represented in the chapters below by the classic and selfparodic hardboiled, the legal, police, and urban procedural, and the mob story—is not untypical of the creative moves of other American genres, from romances and westerns to sci-fi, spy-fi, horror, fantasy, technothrillers, and what not. In short, I take crime fiction to be a representative species of what their fan, George Orwell, almost apologetically called good bad books, but which I prefer to call beachbooks for intellectuals.

NOBROW: CONTENTS AND DISCONTENTS 27 NOTES 1. See Swirski, “The Zettabyte Problem” (2015). 2. See Sorensen, et al. 3. Data from Swirski (2005); for background, see Woolf; Rosenberg; Lowenthal; MacDonald. 4. Page 232; below, next quote, 241. 5. Act 5, scene 1: 394–5. 6. On nobrow and the golden mean of convention and invention, see Swirski (2016); below; on creativity and algorithms, Swirski (2013). 7. Also known as literary Darwinism; see Carroll; Swirski (2007), (2010), (2011); Dutton. 8. See Swirski, Literature, Analytically Speaking on analytic foundations of literary aesthetics.

Both in his fiction and nonfiction, Hammett came down hard on the old-fashioned detective story. The brainy sleuth who rarely leaves his room, yet unerringly identifies the murderer from esoteric clues, struck him as utterly ridiculous. Hammett had skulked in too many cold doorways and had been taken too many times by surprise to put much stock in armchair detectives. He knew how often real-life investigators are stumped trying to piece together what happened, and he knew that they were not gentlemen BRIEFCASES FOR HIRE: DASHIELL HAMMETT AND JOHN GRISHAM 37 of leisure with eccentric hobbies but low-priced drudges on twenty-fourhour call.

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