Re: RARA-AVIS: Re: Dr. Smith

From: a.n.smith (
Date: 10 Mar 2002

> Our newest doctor gets interesting. He writes
> "Actually, the diss/collection covered
> another of my obsessions--Pentecostals."
> Believe you could get some crime into that topic if you just took the
> Flannery O'Connor approach.

Yes, as I did in that Barcelona Review story, and I even have Pentecostalism in the background of the protagonist of my first crime novel (and I hope to write several more with this guy as the lead), which I'm currently revising.

And O'Connor was really an inspiration for me in formulating a way to write about religion, which then expanded when I discovered the great Andre Dubus, who also could get gritty. Lehane, Bob Skinner, and several others have pointed to Dubus as an influence on their work.

> "I did, by the way, desgnate American Hard-boiled as my major area and had
> to take an exam focussed on it."
> And what was the essay question you answered in this area? Any ideas to
> share, or views on the development of HB that haven't been aired here?

You know, I wish I could remember. I was so dazed that week. It was a three hour exam, and I had to answer three questions. One asked how i could justify HB as a topic worthy of "literary" or academic discussion. That was easy enough. I ended up calling it a splinter of modernism, but more of a
"working class modernism" since Hammett certainly influenced literary writers of the day. And as time marched on, toss in John Fante, John O'Hara, Robert Stone, Jonathan Lethem...

I'll see if they'll let me have the answers now that it's over. And when I do, I'll let you know if something interesting slipped my mind. (maybe a film noir question, but if so, I'll send it off list).

Neil Smith

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