Re: RARA-AVIS: Sensitive detectives

Bob Toomey (
Wed, 01 Dec 1999 01:36:36 -0500

"a.n.smith" wrote:

> To suggest that something is "truly hardboiled" kind of locks in the style
> so permanently that it implies formula, to me, at least. The best
> hardboiled writers are not the copycats who had the swagger, the cliches,
> the mood, the tough-guy street lingo. No, the best ones push the edges of
> the genre and force it to accept new ideas and change.

Hardboiled is an attitude, not a style or a genre. There are genres within it, or types, like the hardboiled private eye story. But it really depends on what you'll let past the doorkeeper. Kim Wozencraft's "Rush" seems pretty hardboiled to me; so does Wambaugh's "The Glitter Dome" and Kate Morgenroth's
"Kill Me First," and a fair amount of Algren and Hemmingway. Hardboiled stories don't even require a crime, let alone a private eye. Horace McCoy's "They Shoot Horses, Don't They?" is a hardboiled novel about crime only in the sense that it's a crime to be poor and desperate. George Alec Effinger's "When Gravity Fails," and its sequals are hardboiled science fiction, following Chandler, whose attitude was taken over wholesale by the cyberpunks. There's hardboiled fantasy that mimics Chandler, like Michael Reeves' "Darkworld Detective," Glen Cook's Garrett novels, and too many hardboiled vampire PI series to list. It's an attitude, not a genre.


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