Re: RARA-AVIS: Hard boiled vs. soft

Mario Taboada (
Thu, 4 Nov 1999 10:01:04 -0800 (PST)

<< > THE 1990s detective can't shut up about
> anything. It's hard to go even a few pages
> without being assaulted by a confession of
> inner feelings.>>

Good article, and the above assertion is very true. Sometimes I think that John D. MacDonald's later style
(with lots of talk about "issues", injecting personal opinion, and so on) was the origin of this modern epidemic of idle chat. John D. had lots of class and was a born storyteller, so he could get away with it, but when people with less talent take this as a modus operandi (Grafton, Paretski, and lots of others do this), it bores me silly. There are exceptions, notably Bill Pronzini, John D.'s heir in style and spirit, and a writer with comparable talent, but generally the touchy-feely style has hurt the P.I. novel.

The other day I read Joe Gores's _Contract Null & Void_, a superb DKA novel with no padding at all. I read it straight, and at times I felt I had a Gold Medal in my hands. Great, exemplary stuff. There is one scene near the end where Kearny shoots one of the bad guys in a cold and professional manner that pays homage to Hammett and to the best of hardboiled.

Regards, and apologies for the rant

===== Mario Taboada

"It is our belief that no writer can improve his work until he discards the dulcet notion that the reader is feeble-minded, for writing is an act of faith, not a trick of grammar."

E.B. White
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