RARA-AVIS: Himes/Sallis/???

Nicole Leclerc (nicolel@cam.org)
Sun, 21 Feb 1999 17:31:24 -0500 Bonjour les oiseaux rares,

First a belated thanks to Kevin for welcoming me to the list for those
of you who sent me info on Chester Himes and his works and set me
straight to the fact that they were not written in French first. In the
paper this morning, there was mention of a new publication - for the
first time they have compiled in French, his short stories. Usually his
works appear in a mystery collection called Serie Noire - the snob
reviewer mentioned that they were probably publish there because he is
black, giving the impression that he wrote mysteries - really! how
shocking!!! Ugh! No wonder I tended for so long to avoid him and
Leonard and Ellroy......those people always made them sound so boring.

Being in the mood to remedy my gaps of hard-boiled knowledge, I recently
read my first Sallis. I'm still a bit confused about all your learned
definitions about what constitute a hard-boiled novel - and I feel it's
a normal state in this regard - but I tend to think of him as meeting
most of the standards - loner, somewhat asocial, prone to seek
justice....etc. What really caught my fancy was the mood and climate he
creates, which I had trouble shaking off, and the fact that I kept
thinking I was reading jazz instead of words. Threads could be dropped
and picked up later... or not and new ones emerged. Now I see in my
Pocket Detecting Men that he was nominated for a prize (don't know
which) for Long-Legged Fly and I am very curious to know who could have
beat him - must be quite a writer. Any of you experts know which award
and who the winner was?

I do have another question. Years ago, I read a novel and I am trying
to trace it with no luck. I'm pretty sure it was hard or hardish-boiled
because it was in my Hammet phase when I read everything by him I could
get my hands on (and now I learn that he also wrote under a pseudonym)
and that it was set somewhere in California. What I most vividly
remember however, was a female character, very glamourous and sexy, who
was always dressed to kill, but who never set foot out of her house
being afflicted with what we would now call agoraphobia. She made her
living through a network of contacts and sold the numerous informations
she received. The P.I. used her services but was very keen on taking
her out and getting to know her better... to no avail. Ring a bell with

Nicole Leclerc who's really enjoying her "education" on this list....

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