Re: RARA-AVIS: Hard-boiled music

From: Mark Sullivan (
Date: 04 Apr 2000

I'm also a big fan of music mentions in HB. I think it helps give a handle on the characters, but that might just be me -- I look through people's record collections before I check out their book shelves (let's just say I identify closely with High Fidelity).

I also think the use of music is somewhat generational. It's often used to establish character in contemporary HB (Pelecanos is big on this) -- was Michael Cormany the first to use it in the ritual scene where the PI establishes himself as cooler than the cop, who, in this case, mispronounced Husker Du?

And music is now often used to establish period in historical HB -- just look at Ellroy. Compare historical HB with the books from the period being recreated, though, and you will see that music as _the_ indicator of social place is a more contemporary obsession, Sure, music appears in older HB (for instance, Chandler's King in Yellow), but I think the baby boomers and their heirs read far more into the implications of particular musical choices.

But I'm a product of that time, in the blurry area between Baby Boomer and Gen X, so I love it.


ps -- by the way, for those who think Pelecanos drops too many brand names, steer clear of American Psycho. Hardly a sentence goes by without one. I haven't read enough, yet, to know if there are other reasons to steer clear.

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