RARA-AVIS: Hopeless?

Kevin Smith (kvnsmith@colba.net)
Sat, 17 Apr 1999 11:10:28 -0400 >noir- a world or situation in which there is no hope.
>hardboiled- the attitude with which one deals with it.

Very good, and very close. Except that, for some of them (Chandler's
Marlowe or Macdonald's Archer, for example), the cynicism and
hardboiledness masks a almost-romantic belief in love), however doomed it
might ultimately be. It might be misguided hope, but it is hope.

The last books in both series, PLAYBACK and THE BLUE HAMMER, make a point
of peeling back the layers, and offering a glimpse at the mushy centre of
both Marlowe and Archer. Of course, without hope, it's hard to imagine a
series character not just shooting himself at the end of the first book,
and the publishers might not go for that one. So, does this mean that
Chandler and Macdonald were not hardboiled, and if not, what are we left

The problem with quickie definitions is that they leave out the gray
between the black and white, and both noir and hardboiled tend to spend a
lot of their plots in the gray of those long, stretched-out shadows. And
remember, you need both darkness and light to create shadows.

But if we keep hacking away at it, one day we'll come up with a short,
concise, all-encompassing definition/catch phrase that even a Hollywood big
shot could understand, given enough time.

Kevin Smith
The Thrilling Detective Web Site

In the April issue: True Confessions in our P.I. Poll

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