RARA-AVIS: Re: H-B WAR RECORDS / yes, for some writers

From: Etienne Borgers ( freeweb@rocketmail.com)
Date: 15 Feb 2000

> > It got me wondering how many hard-boiled writers
> had been in
> >combat. Of course, in the fifties, nine out of ten
> males over maybe
> >thirty had been in the army. I was just curious if
> it
> >was known of how many, specifically, wrote as a way
> of adjusting to civilian
> >life.

There is something of value in that statement... but I think that (from my memory, because I've no time to make a search now) more than with WW2, Korea already and certainly Vietnam were two wars from which some HB writers kept a haunting memory. And it was passed into some of their novels. Besides some evidence in their works it is difficult to say for the others if the same reasons pushed them to start writing novels after they return from the war (unless asking them, of course).

But... there was a fair share of HB/Noir writers who participated to WW2, some very actively. One of the main examples was John D Mc Donald who served in the OSS, collecting intelligence in the Far East (WW2), and I remember I came across many other examples, but did not keep track systematically of this factor. Do not forget, that already after WW2 GIs coming back to civil life were entitled to loans at very favorable rates to start activities or access to higher education. It seems that a great number of future writers took this opportunity to study for journalism, lit..etc.

But even with all this I'm not sure that participating to combat in WW2 was necessary a major factor to decide to write HB novels for a would be writer... It could have resulted in other lit genres as well (and did...): mainstream, epic, patriotic, existential...

Somebody said here that being in the army certainly sharpens your perception of the absurd. I second this... any normal being would feel it from day one in the "Grande Muette". I was never in combat, but drafted in Europe and sent abroad with occupation troops in an Infantry assault battalion... Absurd it is. Deadly absurd.

E.Borgers Hard-Boiled Mysteries htp://wwww.geocities.com/Athens/6384
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