Re: RARA-AVIS: Why Are You Here?

From: a.n.smith (
Date: 25 Jan 2000

Subject: Re: RARA-AVIS: Why Are You Here?

Of course, it grows in you so much that over time, you don't remember or recognize what formed your tastes. At least, for me.

I also enjoy literary fiction, and am always interested in seeing language pushed. The direction I like it pushed in is the rough, fragmented, ugly enough to be wonderful.

Probably why I like more noir/crime situations than I do typical PI stuff.

Also, I see hardboiled as a sort of hyperbole of the real. It takes language from the street, and sometimes situations from reality, and turns the knob up to 11, provided we see real life as 2. Maybe I'll never be in one of these situations. But lots of people are in similar ones. So, the excitement, stress, adrenaline rush of these situations, seen through the
"safety glass" of words, makes it art that I care about.

My friend Victor Gischler recently wrote a review of a cozy "cigar" mystery for Over My Dead Body's online site, and it summed up much of what I think about cozies. Death is a puzzle, not a problem. It's interesting, not integral to the lives of the characters. It's about the ego--the cozy detective wants to solve the mystery to show how smart he/she is. It makes the detective "feel" good. Not a life or death situation full of conflicting emotions like most hardboiled works.

And while born in America, and while sounding American, the hardboiled idea has been found to fit comfortably into other cultures and vernaculars, as evidenced by the Brit-Noir writers, most of who I think are really good. Harvey and Rankin, doing police procedurals, also have the right idea, making me care about the characters and the victims of crime in those stories.

Neil Smith Plots With Guns

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