RARA-AVIS: Re: Pellecanos (and Adams)

From: Kevin Burton Smith ( kvnsmith@colba.net)
Date: 03 Feb 2000

BobT wrote:

>Interesting point. Reading stuff written in the 20's, Hammett for
>instance, you find very few period details. Some slang, Fatima
>cigarettes, not much else. What comes through most clearly is the way
>people thought about things in the 20's. But most contemporary writers
>who set stories in the past seem to feel obliged to justify their
>research by loading on the details. What they don't often capture is
>the attitude of the times.

All I can say is, read Harold Adams' series about dustbowl gumshoe and signpainter Carl Wilcox. Imagine a cross between Steinbeck and Chandler, Cain and Woody. Adams gets the past right, in a dry, terse style that could have come out of Hammett.

The same way George Pelecanos gets his time right. The brand-name dropping, as Tim so rightly pointed out, is very much a part of Pelecanos' (and Tim's, and my) g-g-generation. Whether our logo-driven culture is admirable or not, I'll leave to you older and wiser farts, but rest assured--this is how we are.

There is a sort of cultural voice that is rarely heard, and usually ignored, a post-Boom generation rock'n'roll pop culture sensibility that grew up between Woodstock and BRIGHT LIGHTS, BIG CITY, that Doug Coupland dubbed Generation X (a term long since co-opted by the Gap, and now applied indiscriminately to just about everyone who wasn't a hippie), that has had little crime fiction to call its own. At least on this side of the Atlantic. Well, Pellecanos gives us that voice. Thank God the Brits kept him in print long enough for him to be rediscovered over here.

And I just figured out KS was KING SUCKERMAN. What a relief! I was getting even more paranoid than usual for a moment there... Kevin Burton Smith The Thrilling Detective Web Site http://www.colba.net/~kvnsmith/thrillingdetective/ This month: New fiction by Don McGregor and Mark Coggins, plus the Thrillies!

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