James Crumley is almost entirely responsible for my fascination with private detective novels. I first read The Last Good Kiss in graduate school, and I’ve read it at least seven or eight times since. That number doesn’t include the countless times I’ve re-read my favorite highlighted passages for inspiration and for pure enjoyment. C. W. Sughrue remains my all-time favorite PI, and Crumley’s prose is, for lack of a better word, addictive. This blog post was a joy to read simply because I wish I could have gone to a bar in Montana, ordered a beer, and met one of my literary heroes.
Noel King’s final 2005 interview with the late crime writer James Crumley will appear here tomorrow, but first King remembers the man.
MEETING JAMES CRUMLEY by NOEL KING
In late May 1996 I drove up out of Wyoming, through the top left hand corner of Yellowstone National Park, past the icy beauty of the Grand Tetons, into Montana, the place they call “the last good place.” After a drizzly day driving interstate 90 I arrived early one evening in Missoula, hometown of James Crumley, self-described “bastard child of Raymond Chandler,” and a writer whose most recent novel, The Mexican Tree Duck (1993) broke a ten year silence, sold forty thousand in hardback and won the Dashiell Hammett Award for Best Literary Crime Novel from the International Association of Crime Writers.
Missoula is so full of writers that French television makes documentaries about it. No-one knows why writers come to…
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