A while ago, Mark B wrote about serial killer books:
"It's the American way: all flash and no thinking
I've made it pretty clear in the past that, with a few
exceptions, I'm not much of a fan of serial killer books
either. Still, this phrase has been rattling around in my
head ever since I read it.
Sure, this is just a variation on the ever-popular complaint
about mundane, mainstream taste, which I often indulge in
myself. But why did this tyranny of the majority, LCD taste
have to be declared "The American Way"? This dismissal lumps
audience, publishers and authors into one category. Although
serial killer books are usually written in and are immensely
popular in the US, aren't the majority of the books with
which we would replace the psychos also by-products of the
I think we'd all agree that hardboiled/noir is an inherently
American artform. Like jazz and rock 'n' roll, it has spread
around the world
(and like jazz it is often better appreciated overseas than in its native land), with various other countries boasting their own masters -- for instance, Derek Raymond, Ted Lewis and the Fresh Blood school in the UK; Malet, Japrisot, Simenon in France, etc. -- but the US still produces a lot, probably still the bulk of the good stuff.
So rail against the American audience that puts serial
killers on the bestsellers list (both in books and films),
but when you claim bad stuff is the American Way, you are
also damning Hammett, Chandler, the MacDonalds (with big and
little D), Thompson, the Marlowes, Goodis, O'Connell,
Lansdale, Westlake, Block and so many more.
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