RARA-AVIS: Why are you here?

From: Sharon Villines ( sharonvillines@prodigy.net)
Date: 26 Jan 2000

I agree with Kevin this is a good list--which is one reason why I stay.

The reason I joined is that I needed to become more familiar with hard-boiled writers--both to define the sub-genre for the MacGuffin and to understand why readers are attracted to it. What I've learned so far:

1) HB readers categorize Classic Detective Fiction with "cute cozies" in the same way Classic Detective Fiction readers identify HB with Blood & Guts and male chauvinism.

2) HB includes far more authors than I would have supposed. Raymond Chandler still "feels" to me like a Classic Detective rather than a HB, but this has more to do with the increased "onstage" violence in all detective fiction, even cute cozies, rather than with the work in its historical context.

3) HB readers, like readers of Classic Detective Fiction, compare the best of their preferred subgenre with the worst of the other subgenres (Hammett compared with unnamable males who write under female pseudonyms about cats and chintz.)

4) HB has become identified in the minds of many as violence for the sake of violence and all-pervasive corruption, the same way Classic Detective Fiction has become identified with cute pollyanna-style amateur detectives with cats who talk.

I still skip all the pages of car chases, fist and foot fights, descriptions of torture or the tortured, and laugh out loud when the hero survives a dive off a cliff in a car that bursts into flames, to bound back up the cliff in a single leap, to jump on the car of the escaping thugs, where he clings to the back bumper while rogue cops in the accomplice car shoot him several times. But he only lets go when they reach their destination where he jumps off, breaking both legs but only one arm, and rolls faster than the speed of light down a hill while pulling out his cell phone to call -- not the police to tell them where he is -- but his girlfriend to save her before the cops torture her. And he lives to star in more storied after that. I skip those too.


Sharon Villines, Editor
MacGuffin Guide to Detective Fiction, http://www.macguffin.net
MacGuffinL, History & Criticism of Detective Fiction

-- # To unsubscribe, say "unsubscribe rara-avis" to majordomo@icomm.ca. # The web pages for the list are at http://www.miskatonic.org/rara-avis/ .

This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : 26 Jan 2000 EST