RE: RARA-AVIS: Once more into the peach cobbler

From: Anthony Dauer (
Date: 02 Sep 2000

A definition can't go so far from the original that the definitive works no longer fit within the genre. When that occurs you're not talking about the same genre any more. Hammett and Chandler (among others) set the definition and newer works don't redefine that as much as they interpret it ... the put it into the concept of the setting that its written in and in the case of period authors show a truer word than what the contemporary authors of a period could get away with. The definition doesn't change ... it might expand and it might adapt, but its roots remain the same. Eventually you're going to end up with new genres and subgenres whether you want 'em or not.

Genres to begin with are the manufacturings of book sellers trying to market works and to place them within a bookstore where their audience (customer base) can easily find them and purchase them ... that and the sources of dissertations in search of doctorates. That's not to say that genre's are all the same, but just to put it into its perspective.

Books don't go into museums unless they're like the Gutenberg Bible, but stories do become classics and in this case that's what the definitive works have become ... classic hard-boiled and noir. They make up the foundation, but they're no less hard-boiled or noirish today than they were when they defined the genre. Some newbies work can't change that ... it only adds to the canon, it doesn't take away from it. A genre is alive as long as someone's reading it not whether or not someone is still writing it.

So what if a work is excluded from being labeled as hard-boiled. It doesn't cease to exist does it? No, it's still there to be enjoyed. Everything doesn't have to be labeled "hard-boiled" to be good. You water it down too much and you stretch the genre to the point of meaninglessness.

And I like mothballs ... I like wool suits that smell of them and cedar too. Embracing the new doesn't mean throwing away the old ... the Sixties taught us Americans that.

volente Deo,

Anthony Dauer Alexandria, Virginia
"If you don't leave, I'll get somebody who will." -Raymond Chandler (1888-1959)
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