RARA-AVIS: hardboiled definition, setting, Helm's code name

Sat, 6 Feb 1999 13:14:00 EST Stephen Holden:

<< Nadelson is good on expatriates, and on locales where
things are 'interesting' (as in the Chinese curse, 'May you live in
interesting times') such as post-Communist Russia, and Hong Kong at the
time of the handover to the Chinese. >>

I think one can only go so far in pondering taxonomy. What was Louis
Armstrong's definition of jazz? (Something about if you have to ask you'll
never know--an intellectual cop-out, but there is something intuitive about
the identification of jazz or hardboiled. A U.S. supreme court justice, I
think, had a similar definition of pornography, i.e., "I can't define it, but
I know it when I see it.")

I quote Stephen Holden above to raise a question about Jim Doherty's
definition. Might "colloquial" apply to locale as well? I couldn't think of
too many well-known hard-boiled titles in which an exotic locale is a major
theme (or cross-cultural navigation). Probably I'm not reading widely enough.
Is Arjouni hard-boiled and cross-cultural?

More on Helm later. I just note in passing, as a sort of tic, that I had a
little trouble getting past Helm's code name Eric, which seems so bland and
characterless, and it never seems to operate much as a code name. People go
back and forth between Matt Helm and Eric. A small point, but, well, there it

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