RARA-AVIS: A runaway train of thought that gets back on [the reading list] track

cooper (jane@almaludo.freeserve.co.uk)
Tue, 20 Jul 1999 19:39:54 +0100

Just a thought apropos of a throwaway line in my last message about costume dramas,which started one of those 3am train of thoughts, is there any truly hardboiled historical fiction, by which I mean written contemporarily, about pre 20th century. I know HB usually pertains to a modern,
 urban -generally- situation, but if you think about it previous centuries were just as, if not more, violent and grim, than our own, which could provide numerous nasty, dark and lovely scenarios for the right author. The only vaguely HB historical book I can dredge up is The Alienist by Caleb Carr; which has all the right plot elements to be pretty HB, but most of the others set in previous centuries, or even millenia, are distinctly fluffy. Does the constraints imposed by the correct forms of language and manners prevent the books being Hard, and is it something that authors just haven't got their heads round? Also back to the reading list, I read They Shoot Horses... quite a bit back, and Grief what a really bleak,numbing book, short but devastating. A book I would compare it to, in it's effect at least, would be *I Was Dora Suarez* by the very much missed Derek Raymond. In fact I would say, in my small understanding of the term, that Horses would be what Raymond terms _the black novel_. His definition of this is far too long for me to quote, but I would refer the interested to his kind of autobigraphy *The Hidden Files* and _probably_ some of his interviews and articles, but a brief paraphrase about it is; the investigation of the tragedy behind the headlines, its despair, violence and misery, the analysis of the way we live, unflinching from all its uncumbent horror. Not light hearted escapist reading then, but that's the point. The tragedy of these books stays in the soul for a long time. Jane

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This archive was generated by hypermail 2.0b3 on Tue 20 Jul 1999 - 14:38:42 EDT