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During his recent area appearance, modern hardboiled master James Ellroy fielded the usual array of questions on what he thinks of his noir novelist forefathers. Other than Dashiell Hammett, whom he praised, Ellroy dismissed much of the work of James M. Cain and Raymond Chandler, and said Jim Thompson is a complete pile of shit. The highbrow Library of America doesn’t agree; along with issuing two volumes of Chandler, the LOA’s new collections, Crime Novels: American Noir of the 1930s and ’40s and Crime Novels: American Noir of the 1950s, gather the likes of Thompson, Cain, Patricia Highsmith, Charles Willeford, and David Goodis in one of its fancy-pants editions. Ask editor Robert Polito what he thinks of Ellroy when poet pals Sam Kashner and Nancy Schoenberger join him to read from Crime Novels’ scurrilous scribes tonight at 7 p.m. at Chapters, 1512 K St. NW. FREE. (202) 347-5495. (Christopher Porter)