Re: RARA-AVIS: Hard-boiled vs. soft

Jason Debly (
Mon, 08 Nov 1999 05:59:03 +0000

I agree totally! Unfortunately, publishers and agents seem to think this mundane trivia has some sort of literary quality when actually it has no baering on character or plot or anything else for that matter. I have been told by a number of editors and agents that Sue Grafton's success is part of the reason for the demand of this poor writing habit. Grafton's success has caused editors to search for the next Grafton. She is the worst offender of this trend and even though she is by no means a hard boiled writer, her success has affected what publishers are looking. for. Trust me, as an amateur hard boiled detective novelist, it ain't fashionable to be one right now.

Juri Nummelin wrote:

> On Thu, 4 Nov 1999, Doug Bassett wrote:
> > though, I've always blamed the "sensitive" PI trend on
> > two authors: Robert Parker (with all of that "what it
> > means to be a man and still have a committed
> > relationship" stuff), and, I hate to say it because I
> > really admire his writing generally, Lawrence Block. I
> > think it's undeniable that his Matthew Scudder series
> > has taken a nose-dive in quality ever since Scudder
> > got sober and domesticated.
> I agree completely with that. Robert B. Parker and Block are at their
> worst almost unbearable (Block is much better in Tanner novels). In such
> books as they aim to write there is no need to tell about the
> protagonist's attempts to survive in their everyday life. It just isn't
> interesting. And same goes for Howard Engel and Marcia Muller.
> And I've always wondered why Matt Scudder and Spenser and Mark Timlin's
> PI (I forget the name) always take time to tell what they wear. In
> the beginning of "The Big Sleep" Marlowe tells what he wears, but it
> tells us about the character and the mood he's in and how he fits in
> the landscape, not just about what he wears. And at least he wears a
> suit and not sneakers and jeans! I think a PI must wear a suit!
> And I think it's not funny anymore if a PI has problems paying his bills
> and stuff. Stuart M. Kaminsky's novels about Toby Peters are larded with
> Peters's fussying about the dirty clothes and unpaid bills and
> dyspepsia. What's the point?
> Juri
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