Re: RARA-AVIS: Re: Hardboiled?

From: Mario Taboada (
Date: 10 Jul 2000

<<Not bad, if a little dated (Spillane and Macdonald aren't exactly cranking 'em out, are they?) But Wooley gets caught up in surface details. Certainly, it's hard to see Archer as a ladies' man, for example, or Spade, the Op, or most of Gores' DKA guys as borderline alcoholics. There are plenty of ways to be hard-boiled that have nothing to do with sex or alcohol. It's the core of the characters that makes them hard-boiled or not, not their personal lives, fedoras or trenchcoats.>>

Let me add that a lof of the best-known hardboiled characters are not wisecrackers or even conversationalists. Think of Hammet's Op, Gores's DK, Westlake's Parker, Hamilton's Matt Helm, Johnson's Mongo, Ellroy's Dudley Smith, Block's Keller. Some of these dudes are pretty quiet. Some are very polite (like Dudley, that quintessentially well-bred and warm-hearted Irishman). Some characters only manifest themselves in action. That's hardboiled. The action and the inner attitude, and the strength when under pressure, not the talk.

We have all been misled by Chandler. He is such a towering figure in crime fiction, and such a marvellous writer, that we define hardboiled as Marlovian. I think it's time to get away from that. For hardboiled, you don't need a Marlowe; you don't even need a PI, or a good guy for that matter.

Regards, and sorry to ramble so much. It's hot'n humid, again.


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