RARA-AVIS: Re: Small World

From: Kevin Burton Smith ( kvnsmith@colba.net)
Date: 06 Jul 2000

I originally wrote:

> >Actually, part of the reason you don't see much foreign crime fiction
>>is that, when it comes to crime fiction, supposedly Americans don't
>>like reading about other cultures, unless it's some twee, mythical,
>>cosy England, or it's written by an American.

and Paul replied:

>Oh, I dunno.
>Although I usually agree with what my frozen northern friend has to say, I
>think I'd have to demur on this kind of blanket statement.

Which is why I said "supposedly," my inbred cracker pal.

>How about Rankin? Bartholomew Gill? The Morse books? Or even part-time
>beaverite Peter Robinson...I think Kev's assumption that concern for
>what the readers want in the Uessa
>has any bearing upon what gets published is a little naive. Since when did
>taste have anything to do with the Fall lists?

Well, certainly no more naive and certainly far less of a blanket statement than assuming all European hard-boiled writers "are pretty limpdicked imitations of the real deal" or that "Such casualness (as evident in HB) is not natural to Europeans." Such statements go a long way towards explaining why Americans are often seen as being less accepting and tolerant of other cultures.

And anyway, there's plenty of other cultures beyond Europe. Fact is, you only mention the handful of foreign crime writers who ARE promoted heavily in the States. You don't mention those who aren't. And that's my point. You don't know about them. But there's plenty. Mark just skims the surface.

>The practitioners of EuroCF, the good ones -- Rankin, Patricia Hall,
>Robinson, Margaret York, Minette Walters -- who are successful at their
>trade have no problems finding a publisher over here. For one reason.
>They're pretty fucking good. Not HB, but they can't be expected to be. AND
>They're Euros.
>HB's an American thing. They wouldn't understand. And, most likely, neither
>would their readers.

Sorry, Juri and Etienne, Paul says you have to leave now. Can Bill and I stay since most Americans don't seem to know Canada is a whole other country? Or do we have to leave and take Ross Macdonald with us?

Look, I'm not trying to pick a fight, but there's an awful lot of good hard-boiled out there that most American crime fiction fans just haven't got a clue about. Imprints like Mask Noir and No Exit in the U.K., and Serie noir in France, continue not only to churn out powerful original hard-boiled from around the world (including the U.S.), but often keep in print stuff American readers have long forgotten, or never even knew existed. Thanks to those European publishers who, I guess, "don't understand hard-boiled," I was able to discover George Pelecanos, Wade Miller, Jonathan Latimer and several other list favourites who were out of print (some for decades) in the States. And strolling through French bookstores here in Montreal you can catch a hint of the worldwide hunger for hard-boiled. Judging from the racks, Ellroy, Mosley, Pelecanos, Jerome Charwyn and Block are very, very popular. So surely someone out there besides Americans "gets" it. Unless thousands and thousands of people worldwide are in the habit of regularly buying books they don't understand.

There's a whole hard-boiled world out there, whether you choose to close the drapes or not.

Kevin Burton Smith The Thrilling Detective Web Site http://www.colba.net/~kvnsmith/thrillingdetective/

New fiction from Anthony Neil Smith and Jochem Vandersteen, a Reader's Survey and Talkin' 'Bout Shaft. Can you dig it?

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