James Crumley

Though I never met James Crumley, in the late 1960s we were both at the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop--where being a mystery writer put you pretty far in the back of the bus. Crumley, who died on Sept. 17 at 68, was ahead of me in the program, and I can only wonder if he ran into the same mix of skepticism and condescension toward "popular fiction" that I encountered.

What Crumley represents to me is a seriousness of purpose and an ability rare among the major late 20th century private-eye writers to follow Raymond Chandler's lead without unintentionally parodying...

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