Re: RARA-AVIS: RE: What is a private eye?

From: Mark Sullivan (
Date: 22 Aug 2001

Dick wrote:

"The thing to bear in mind in trying to arrive at some workable definition -- private eye, noir, hardboiled, etc. -- is that, as entertaining as these discussions may be, in our heart of hearts we really don't want these kinds of categories. The books or movies or TV shows that most of us prize are usually the ones that don't slavishly conform to any established category. Or am I wrong?"

This brings out a mixed reaction in me. On the one hand, I wholeheartedly agree, I do tend to greatly appreciate genre-benders like Jack O'Connell and James Sallis (to name but two that popped right into my head). However, I tend to gravitate towards those who are stetching out from the same genre, hardboiled, which means my reading is still defined by that genre. For instance, Dick's own Sleeping Dogs (and Laughing Dogs after it) offers a pretty traditional PI as one of its poles, even as he opens the genre up by alternating the PI's view with that of a second narrator with a decidedly different background and perspective. So I guess my ideal would strike a balance between repetition and innovation.

In the words of Wilson Pickett, "First you harmonize, then you customize."


# 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 : 22 Aug 2001 EDT