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

From: Doug Bassett (
Date: 31 Aug 2000

--- William Denton <> wrote:
> On 30 August 2000,
> wrote:
> : 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?
> It doesn't make me uneasy, but it makes me see stuff
> called hardboiled
> that isn't. A PI who carries a gun and drinks, a
> decent citizen who gets
> mixed up in corruption, anything like that, can be
> done in such a way that
> people who like other kinds of mysteries will call
> it hardboiled. We've
> all got standards and definitions of what is and
> isn't, and sometimes
> they'll be met and sometimes they won't.

I think this is very important. If you believe that
"hardboiled" means something, that it's an authentic artistic approach, then I think it's important to try to define what you mean by that -- even knowing that people will disagree, and that there'll always be marginal cases.

I think the attempt is important, in other words. Without it people get lazy, and they start pointing at anything they like and calling it "hardboiled". And that doesn't help the hb genre -- although the remnants of the hb reputation do help these faux-hb books.

(That's not to say that everything hb is necessarily good, or that a faux-hb is necessarily a bad book -- I've made this point earlier. But I do think one should know what one is dealing with.)

Mr. Denton tries to draw an analogy with jazz music. I'm pretty sure most people on rara-avis don't listen to heavy metal music :) -- but that might be a better fit. To an educated listener of the genre, there is a qualitative difference between, say, Def Leppard and Motorhead, and it's not simply that one of them sucks and the other one is great. The difference, to state it briefly, is that one of them (Motorhead) is an authentic metal band, while the other is a pop band faking it the metal arena. One of them believes in their aesthetic, while the other is wrapping the aesthetic around them in an attempt, basically, to sell records.

The same sort of thing is going on nowadays, I think, with the hb genre.


===== Doug Bassett

__________________________________________________ Do You Yahoo!? Yahoo! Mail - Free email you can access from anywhere!

# To unsubscribe from the regular list, say "unsubscribe rara-avis" to
#  This will not work for the digest version.
# The web pages for the list are at .

This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : 31 Aug 2000 EDT