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

Etienne Borgers (
Mon, 8 Nov 1999 01:39:37 -0800 (PST)

I think Jason here strikes a point!

I agree: editors are biasing most of the "profile" of would-be success mysteries they tend to publish lately. We spoke some time ago here about their quasi-impotent way in recognizing something of value in new material. So they try to reconstruct why a book was successful in the past (even very recent past), and think that it's only a matter of factual content to make a success with another author...etc. Sounds familiar?

There's more than Grafton in the line of culprits.

All these characters that you remember only because they eat wild mushrooms, cultivate orchids, are passionate by breeding dogs with no tails,,, [just complete yourself the endless list], make the general public think they enter the world of real mystery fiction.. and tradition goes way back to the classic
"detective" of the cosies and whodunits, to whom you had to add some singular traits to distinguish the one from the other, in endless similar plots. There's a public for these things... so, fine, let them enjoy neo-cosies and "new wave" whodunits, not forgetting neues-gothic. But the necessity to push a hard-boiled author in these "cornichonneries", puzzles me. Just because the reading public for real hard-boiled shrunk these two last decades, and it's an easy way to gain readership? and a bigger part of the feminine readership at the same time? Well, IMO that will be the end of HB then, if this system is strictly enforced. There's no future for this approach. I think HB asks more than fashion statements or domestic habits, to give a certain realism and depth to its characters.

On the other hand, the reading public made of HB fans is not totally clean in this bad case: most wants series...!! Authors' fatigue does exist when they are entrapped in the small repetitive world of their heroes. Give them a break! Let them explore non-serial fiction.

My 2.5 cents.

E.Borgers Hard-Boiled Mysteries

--- Jason Debly <> wrote:
> 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.
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