RARA-AVIS: Re: Los Angeles

From: Kevin Burton Smith ( kvnsmith@thrillingdetective.com)
Date: 07 Sep 2001

>Also the mob was
>pretty much tied up in the industry from the beginning, wasn't it?

Um, was it? The film industry preceded Prohibition, so the Mob, if it existed at all, wouldn't have been this big powerful entity at the time. There were probably mobs then, but not The Mob. It took an act of law to give us that.

I wrote:

>"Interestingly, radio eyes didn't seem as LA-obsessed. But then
>television came along and more than made up for it."

And Mark wrote:

>Of course, the radio industry's home was New York, not LA. Which raises
>the question: were radio PIs New York-obsessed?

Yeah. But mostly they were scattered all over. The writers had free reign to set their stories anywhere, unbound by the shackles of visuals and the financial limitations of location shootings. And so they did.

I'm not discounting Kerry's whole mythic go west young man, end of the road theory, but I've read far too many bad hardboiled novels
(particularly P.I. novels) written by authors who wouldn't know a myth if it pissed on their leg. Their choice of L.A. as a setting seems to be totally arbitrary, based more on imitating Chandler than having anything to say.

Not that L.A, isn't a fine place to set a hard-boiled novel (if the writer has something to say about it) but I'm glad we seem to have broken that New York/L.A. yoke. The revived regionalism in the mystery genre (Spenser in Boston, Walker in Detroit, Hap and Leonard in Texas, Paretsky in Chicago, George's guys in Washington, D.C., Kerry's own John Swan in Hamilton, etc., etc.) is one of the things I really dig.

These guys make these places come alive, something a lot of pallid L.A.-set novels never do.

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