Re: RARA-AVIS: Hopeless?

James Rogers (
Sat, 17 Apr 1999 12:36:37 -0500 (CDT) At 11:10 AM 4/17/99 -0400, you wrote:
>>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

Well, I think there is pretty close to consensus that _Playback_ is
Chandler's worst and barely boiled at all. Likewise, MacDonald comes up for
a regular drubbing at the hands of those who consider him the Scott Peck of
the P.I world. I wont speak to the MacDonald debate, since we have kicked it
around so recently, but "hopeless" pretty well sums up the attitude in
Chandler's other novels, except perhaps for _Lady In The Lake_. I agree that
there is a romaniticism there but it is the romantic quality associated with
doomed situations, hopeless love, etc.. A Tristram and Iseult trip. When
Ellroy kicks about the pervasive male self-pity of these books, I think that
this is a lot of what he is talking about.


James Michael Rogers
Mundus Vult Decipi

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