RARA-AVIS: Here comes a regular...

From: Kevin Burton Smith ( kvnsmith@colba.net)
Date: 08 Feb 2000

Look, whether you like Pelecanos' style or not is up to you.

But he gets his time, and a certain cultural attitude, dead right, in a way some of his better-selling contemporaries, with their heads stuck up the asshole of the past, will never come close to approaching. They're too busy trying to write like it's 1949. Not that there's really anything necessarily wrong with that, except that they're fifty years too late.

Sure, Pelecanos' pop culture references and brand-name-dropping may be a generational thing, here today, gone tomorrow, but that doesn't make it any less valid. That a guy of a certain age wears a pork pie hat or smokes Fatimas can say as much as whether a guy listens to James Brown and Nirvana or Celine Dion and Billy Joel.

Lew Archer was obsessed with flowers and shrubs. And Marlowe saw guys with faces like collapsed lungs. Nick Stefanos notices whether a girl has a Replacements album in her collection.

The thing in common is that things are being noticed. Surely one function of a private eye is to see.

Yeah, the references will be dated, and obscure in a few years. But hardboiled fiction should be written for today, not for tomorrow. And there's something inherently bogus, or maybe just a tad precious, about writing for yesterday.

Kevin Burton Smith The Thrilling Detective Web Site http://www.colba.net/~kvnsmith/thrillingdetective/ Now: The last few days to vote for The Thrillies. Soon: The P.I. Poll on Short Fiction, plus new stuff of our own.

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