Re: RARA-AVIS: M Taboada's "hardboiled characters"

From: Doug Bassett (
Date: 07 Jun 2000

I think we're just going to have to agree to disagree. Which is fine.

--- Mario Taboada <> wrote:
> <<On the other hand, I've always considered
> Bukowski's
> work to be hb, though his protagonists (for the most
> part) wouldn't hurt a fly.>>
> If the characters are utter losers, it's more likely
> to be noir than
> hardboiled.

Ah, but there's not much of that kind of doomy "the world is crushing me, I am a fly in the ointment of life" vibe in Bukowski's work. Alot of it is oddly optimistic, in fact.
> As to a HB book without HB characters, I can't
> conceive of such a thing. I
> think it doesn't exist, though I'm open to hearing
> of some examples.

Another example, to my mind, of a non-hb character in a hb book: the protag. in Burrough's JUNKY.

> Now to Kent Anderson's "literary" style. There's no
> rule that excludes
> stylistic sophistication and experimentation from
> genre literature. It's not
> that common, but neither is it so rare (think
> Willeford, Ellroy, Lansdale or
> Higgins, names frequently mentioned in this very
> forum).

Haven't read enough Ellroy to judge. The only Lansdale hb novel I've read, SAVAGE SEASON, wouldn't have been too out of place as part of the Gold Medal line. Although Higgins had, I think, literary pretensions with FRIENDS OF EDDIE COYLE, the actual book is pretty close to the classic hb style -- it's as if he entered the party through the back door (or at least is just loitering outside). Yes on Willeford.

Personally, I like to distinguish between tough-minded books like SYMPATHY FOR THE DEVIL or James Jones's THIN RED LINE and hb books. For me, an important part of "hardboiled" is the classic Hemingway-derived style, and so, for me, books that are using sophisticated literary techniques are not hardboiled books. Doesn't mean that they're bad books -- just different.

I think Kent Anderson's follow-up, NIGHT DOGS, is a hardboiled book -- and a damn good one, too.

Of course, all of that is just my opinion.


===== Doug Bassett

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