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

From: Juri Nummelin (
Date: 01 Sep 2000

On Thu, 31 Aug 2000, Doug Bassett wrote:

> 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 just what has happened to "pulp", as it now has begun to mean almost anything that isn't highly literal.

> 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.

I just couldn't keep my hands out of this. I don't like Def Leppard at all and Motorhead I like only occasionally, but you must mean that if someone is out there just to make money, he can't do it good. Well, there are several examples to prove this wrong: The Monkees's wonderful pop songs, with perfect melodies and sufficient humour. The classical Hollywood - who would say that they weren't out there just to make money? Howard Hawks, the perfect auteur pinned so by the French critics, was one of the most succesful American directors of his time. And as for hardboiled literature, I believe such favoured authors like Richard Prather or Brett Halliday wanted just to make money. But they were good at what they were doing. The whole pulp/paperback phenomenon was about these writers making money. It was their profession. I think it would be pretentious to say that they wrote the way they did because they loved it, they were just good at what they were doing and hence could do so marvellous things with it.


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