RE: RARA-AVIS: Hardboiled This & That

From: James Rogers (
Date: 19 Apr 2000

At 10:23 PM 4/18/00 -0500, Bill Hagen wrote:
>James writes,
>"After having wrangled on the noir v. HB distinction ever since I got
>on the list, I have finally come to the conclusion that it is just about
>the most useless catagorization in the world. No one ever agrees as to
>which is which and, since it appears just about all of us like both
>flavors, it doesn't seem to have much practical effect."
>I'm sorry you're weary of theory, but it does have some practical effect.
> I expect most of us have firm views on the subject and create criteria to
>back up our judgements (or irrational tastes) of what is good and bad in
>the books
>we read.
    Yes, but if I meet someone who likes Chandler I usually feel on safe ground suggesting that he or she might also enjoy Cain or Sebastian Japriot without splitting hairs as to whether they are more "noir" or more "HB". It sort of reminds me of the Monty Python skit where they distinguish vocabulary into "woody" words v. "tinny" words.
    Anyway, enough of that for the moment. Another possible candidate for
"our kind of book" without a very overt crime...though it is set in the criminal classes....might be Kennedy's _Billy Phelan's Greatest Game_, although I have an unreasoning prejudice against Pulitzer Prize winning authors. I had very mixed feelings about it. I kind of liked it, but it seemed to suffer from having that very earnest, literary vibe. As though it wanted to be a hardboiled novel but was just too embarrassed to come out and do it.


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