Re: RARA-AVIS: What is this REALLY about?

From: Doug Bassett (
Date: 28 May 2000

Now, now, I said I didn't want to get into an argument. :) And certainly my own opinions are not, by any means, The Last Word on the Subject.

--- wrote:
> Doug, you're talking as though there is a very
> specific, limited thing
> which is HB. Well, if you define it as "something
> that women don't
> do", then Whee! woman PIs just can't be hard boiled.

Actually, I do have a very specific idea of what is and what isn't hardboiled. I'm not going to get into that now, but I did once post my definition here. If you want to see it, I suppose it's lurking around in the archives. Again, this is just my two cents.

By the way, I hope I haven't left anyone with the impression that I don't think women can do hb. My experience with good female writers in the genre, though, is very limited. (I like Patricia Highsmith's work, but I don't consider her hb. I've read some Vin Packer stories that I liked a great deal, but am having a hard time finding her novels. That's about all I've read.) I was quite serious when I was eliciting suggestions.

Yes, I enjoy Muller and
> Grafton (though not
> all the time because like anybody else they're
> grinding out one a year
> and sometimes it doesn't work, sometimes it was a
> poor plot to start
> with, and sometimes they're tired and would rather
> have done something
> else) -- not because they copy some earlier writer
> or format but
> because they use and alter it.

I was also quite serious when I asked for someone who liked these writers to explain why. Again, I'm not trying to start and argument -- I'm just interested in hearing another point of view on these writers. So, could you go into some more detail?
   Junkies aren't hard boiled (except
> maybe in fiction) but,
> like all the whores I've ever known, deeply damaged.
> But this isn't
> crime fiction; these are victims, not avengers. (
> I'm talking real life.)

Well, there's a great tradition of Seamy Sides of Life stories in hb (Goodis, Burroughs, Bukowski, Goines, Slim, etc.) So I'm afraid I'm going to have to disagree with you here -- one could easily imagine a hb whore's tale. Are there any? I don't know.


===== Doug Bassett

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