Re: RARA-AVIS: Work and Insobriety

From: Anthony Dauer (
Date: 15 Apr 2001

Nick Travers of Ace Atkins's "Leavin' Trunk Blues" in 46 pages has managed to put a way some whiskey in both the now and the back story of the narrative:

"The cold stung Nick's face and hands as he stepped onto the Union Station platform with his army duffel bag and great expectations. He buttoned the wool overcoat and pulled a black watch cap down on his head as he exhaled a long stream of smoky breath tainted with whisky. It was early Thursday morning, December 21, and the booze and tight quarters hadn't been kind to his old body. He felt sore and stiff as he followed a trail of people into the terminal."

Doesn't say much for the "hardboiled" protagonist ... "who is neither tarnished nor afraid." Hard to see how anyone including Marlowe isn't tarnished or showing their fear by such a strong need for alcohol in their daily lives. In Marlowe's defense, even with prohibition and all the other evils of drink sermons, his era appears to be far more forgiving of the functional alcoholic than today's society with the Rat Pack's almost mythical partying and the martini lunches, etc. Therapy and the graying of the Boomers have made it less glamorous.

In "A Murder of Honor," Robert Andrew's protagonist Frank Kearney and his partner Jose Phelps don't pull any all night drinking binges that the narration reveals, but they do have a drink or two throughout the story ... coffee has a far higher place in their collective thoughts as the story progresses. Which is not surprising in DC where there are as many independents and small chains to balance out the Starbucks that you can almost see from each other.

All four are hardboiled even if some have potentially weak personalities through addictive behaviors for they are all men of honor ... "by instinct, by inevitability, without thought of it, and certainly without saying it."

Alcohol would help you stay numb to the events around you ... down these mean streets a man must stagger who is not himself a mean drunk.

Anthony Dauer
Alexandria, VA

Judas ... a stretch of the mean streets on the web
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