RARA-AVIS: Re: Hard-boiled

Kevin Smith (kvnsmith@colba.net)
Mon, 8 Jun 1998 13:21:58 -0500 >It is indeed a stretch to call Kinsey Milhone a hard-boiled detective.
>Hard-boiled in general usage is defined as "Callous; unfeeling.
>Unsentimental and practical; tough. In regards to detective fiction
>specifically it is defined as: of, relating to, or being a detective
>story featuring
> a tough unsentimental protagonist and a matter-of-fact attitude towards
>While Kinsey gets knocked about a bit, and she is 'tough and
>unsentimental' about men in general and her two previous husbands in
>particular, she really doesn't fit the bill.

>Certainly, if we use Marlowe and Spade and Archer as bench-marks, the
>answer is obvious.
>Which is probably why taxonomists keep reclassifying things so

Well, if we use that criteria, Archer and Marlowe aren't hardboiled,
either. In fact, they're both guilty of wandering into some pretty
sentimental, to the point of schmaltzy, areas, particularly in the later
books. Certainly, Marlowe's "air full of music" stuff and Archer's poetic
flights about "blue hammers" are far more sentimental than anything
Kinsey's spouted so far...

Yet, part of their appeal (even Millhone's) is that very vulnerability,
combined with their toughness, that schism between heart and brain that
makes them real, or at least human...weren't we just talking about this a
few weeks ago, about that heart of mush that lies under the rough exterior
of so much hardboiled fiction?

But where'd you get that definition, anyway? (and did anyone else wonder
why he was talking about guys that stuff dead animals...I've got to read
more carefully...)


Kevin Smith
Web & Graphic Design
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