Re: RARA-AVIS: Re: Once more into the breech...

Date: 30 Aug 2000

Clearly Ned Fleming -- and maybe everybody else on the list <muted sob>
-- knows something I don't know.

 See, there's this bad-tempered argument going on about Kinsey, VI, or whoever, being, or not being, "hardboiled". It seems to be starting to operate along the lines of "X isn't hardboiled because by definition no woman can be unless I say so, and I won't, you bastard". Forgive me if I've misunderstood, I can only go by what I read.

Being a sweet, naive, simple person, I have always assumed that
"hardboiled" looks back to something somebody once said about "down these mean streets", and to the idea of boiling an egg: something soft and fluid being turned hard without "going bad" under the heat of experience and suffering.

 Obviously, you can add things to that, or not, if splitting hairs and categories amuses you or even teaches you something. Also obviously this isn't good enough for a lot of people, because it would permit anybody in crime fiction (provided they have a moral sense) to be "hardboiled": men, women, policemen, PIs, even amateurs (provided they don't spend their spare time quilting, perhaps).

Personally, I write what Americans call "cozies", with a female amateur detective who has a funny name and a cat; at the end of the fourth book in the series she kills somebody because she has to; the experience affects her. I happen to think that this is a great time for crime writing and that in part this is because a lot of boundaries are being crossed. Perhaps this makes some people uneasy?

So do we go a step further and say, "only" some specific sub-division counts as hardboiled? And if so, what is it, and who sez? And does writing "fuck" three times while saying it prove the point? Now, that would certainly convince me.


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