Re: RARA-AVIS: Walking and Talking--Two Different Things?

From: KS (
Date: 19 Dec 2000

Kevin Burton Smith wrote:

> Fantasy is, indeed, the
> great equalizer. Chandler and Hammett made their fictional worlds
> seem real, and that's what's important, not whether Hammett ever
> really investigated a stolen ferris wheel.

In Paul Challen's recent biography of Elmore Leonard, Jack Batten (journalist and mystery writer) talks about the authenticity of dialogue. He says Leonard's characters "talk like Elmore Leonard people. You rarely hear people talking in such an interesting and funny way. I'm sure he or his researcher would hang out with, say, somebody in the loan-sharking business, and ask,
'How do you do collections?' So there would be expressions -- a few expressions that loan-sharking people would use that are common in the business, that are quirky and colorful. And so Leonard would just latch on to those."

In other words, authentic dialogue is the result of a vivid imagination and a knowledge of trade jargon.

Leonard himself responded to questions about the realism of his doalogue:
"Well, that's it. All the ones who say, 'It's so realistic' --how do they know?"

Point being that the dialogue isn't authentic, but it catches the way the reading public imagines the characters would talk. As for the reality of PI fiction, perhaps the most successful authors capture the way their readers would like to think they would behave if they themselves were tough-guy detectives? And perhaps depictions of those mean streets, where most nights almost anyone could walk without encountering anything more dangerous than an obnoxious drunk, describe a world of random violence and death that could only be conjured in snug, middle-class, suburbs?


<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<LOOKING FOR FUN>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

The evil that men do lives after them at
Literary events in Ontario's Golden Horseshoe and around the world at
<<<<<<<<<<<IN ALL THE WRONG PLACES>>>>>>>>>>>>

-- # 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 : 19 Dec 2000 EST