From: Mario Taboada (
Date: 27 Jun 2001


<<I don't remember them being so loaded with similes and metaphors as MOTOR CITY BLUE: "The city was as hot as a frying pan left on the burner overnight. My throat was as dry as a vermouth-less martini bar in the Sahara with four dehumidifers running. I quenched my thirst with some beer that was as cold as the look my grade seven teacher would give me when I misspelled 'functionary.'">>

Metaphor and simile have become an epidemic, and not just in the P.I. subgenre. I suspect that authors are thinking movie script lines when they write such stuff. Chandler abused the simile, but he put it to great use as a comic device. Since then, the trick has become threadbare*
(Howard Browne alone wore out a lot of the trim*, if trim is what rugs have around them)*. Swift's warning against metaphor still holds, I think. The guy preached by example, too: he could write long stretches without metaphorizing at all. So could Hammett.

and we proceed to another chestnut*:

<<Walker gets hit on the head a couple of times. The first time he tells us how it's not like on TV,

and it hurts and you throw up and you can't just get up, shake your head, and walk away. Later he's beaten by a big guy with brass knuckles, passes out, is woken by a prostitute and is in bed with her ten minutes later.>>

For exageration, how about Stick, in _Stick_, who first gets in the sack with the boss's wife, then services a scared bimbo who's hiding in the boss's yacht out on the dock, and THEN tries to go at it with the real girl, the girl who's worth it. Well, he couldn't, the physiology wouldn't allow it, but Leonard's limp attempt at slapstick sticks out like a tarantula, oops!!

Oh, I forgot to say that THE GIRL UNDERSTOOD, even though she didn't know Stick from Adam. Sorry Elmore, your female characters suck.

Let's face it, a lot of our favorite books would never pass a minimal reality test. And I didn't even get into James Lee Burke -- or David Goodis.

*See the kind of shitsville you get into when you start comparing?

Best, and apologies for a long and not too polished post. No diamond, just rough.


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