Re: RARA-AVIS: Private Eyes. What else?

From: Mark Sullivan (
Date: 01 Mar 2001

Juri wrote:

"Yes. That's just what I was trying to say. They tried to break them. Whether they succeeded, I don't know (Thompson, to my mind, didn't always). And breaking those conventions seems to me to be more interesting than trying to break the conventions of the P.I. genre. Why that is, I don't know."

This sounds more like a matter of taste than a critical stance, just as I stated my taste runs more towards PI novels. And as Tad Allagash said in Jay McInnerny's Bright Lights Big City, "Taste, after all, is a matter of taste."

"Maybe I just don't need reassurement and comfort. I like to be shattered."

I think you may have taken my use of the word "reassuring" wrong. I don't require or even want a story that is reassuring. It is the genre itself I find reassuring. And while you may favor shattering stories, as do I, that's a matter of plot and/or content, not of form -- in other words, I find the form conventional, but hope to discover innovation in the content As I've stated, I believe the authors you champion rely just as heavily upon tired and true forms. How could we say Blood Simple or Body Heat are Cain-like if he did not have certain patterns and themes running through his ouevre? Goodis was the most blatant in telling the same story over and over again, but the others you hail did it, too.

Finally, this break you talk about happened quite some time ago. Have others followed in their wake and continued the revolution? If so, who? This last is not meant to be argumentative. I really want to know. I'd like to add some good recent authors in this vein to the few I already know and like, such as Russell James, Ken Bruen, Nicholas Blincoe, Jeremy Hawes and Scott Phillips, along with the others I mentioned in my last post.


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