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

From: a.n.smith (
Date: 31 Aug 2000

I return to the fray with comments on this:

> I'm pretty sure most people on rara-avis don't listen
> to heavy metal music :) -- but that might be a better
> fit. 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.

As one of those who does listen to metal (more in younger days than now), it tends to me that looking at music as an analogy for what happens is hard-boiled literature brings up something about the author of the post. These are heavy, solid lines being drawn here, as "authentic" comes up in the mix. But is anything a purely original genre or style of music? They have historical backgrounds or mixing, matching, cutting and pasting. And eventually, one can take aspects of hard-boiled writing and aspects of different musical genres and make a blend (Can we argue that the metal artists influenced by classical modes and themes were not practicing
"authentic" metal? ) . The blending moves things forward. Trying to hold onto the purity of a genre or musical style brings to mind the image of someone trying to fight off a tidal wave with a tennis racket.

Hard-boiled writing isn't as new a thing as it was when the pulp writers launched the whole thing (and can we really say Hammett wasn't doing it for money? That the aesthetic was less pure because he was? Stretch it out through time--Chandler, Himes, Ross Macdonald, Elmore Leonard--and ask the same question).

Not authoritative, of course. Just some thoughts. The continued (and seemingly endless) search for a concrete definition of the hard-boiled amuses me. Wait seventy-five more years and then go see what some lit crit book has to say about what it was all about, and, to that generation, that's what it will be.

Neil Smith co-editor, Plots With Guns

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