RARA-AVIS: RE: Hard-Boiled and Pronzini

From: Dick Lochte ( dlock@ix.netcom.com)
Date: 20 May 2000

One of the main things I've liked about this list is that, though we may disagree on a number of aspects about crime writing, we're usually on the same page about the genre. The negative comments about Bill Pronzini are jaw-droppers. Childish? Marginal? The later opinion is quite plainly uninformed. From his first novel about his nameless detective, Pronzini has been a powerful presence. That's not an opinion; it's a matter of record. Thirty years at the game and still going strong. He's about as marginal as Ed McBain.

I'm not sure what prompted the "childish" comment. Is it Pronzini's private eye's fondness for pulp magazines? His difficulty in establishing relationships? It's always a good idea to accompany a criticism with at least a clue as to what you're taking about.

Regarding the death of the hardboiled private eye, discussing these kinds of pronouncements may be fun but, to quote a TV series that features the private eye formula in contemporary garb - the truth is out there. Basic ideas and concepts don't die. I'm not a wild fan of Greg Rucka or Dennis Lehane, but they seem to have figured out a way to keep the tough 'tec flame burning. Just as Sue Grafton and Sarah Paretsky did a while back. The television series "Angel" is another contemporary take on Chandler's knight and a damned (pun intended) good one. Odds are the private eye will be alive and well long after we've all been put to bed.

Dick Lochte

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