Re: RARA-AVIS: colloquial and hardboiled

From: Joy Matkowski (
Date: 23 Apr 2002

I recently read Margo Pierce Dorksen' _Muzzy,_ which features the perspective of a carpenter just getting out of jail for wrecking a bar. His wife's filed for divorce and taken over his double-wide and pickup, and his boss has fired him. The only friend who's stuck by him offers floor space in his attic apartment.
    He takes a job delivering pizzas so as not to keep sponging off his roofer pal, and a pretty good mystery develops from there. This book is rare in that it comes from a blue-collar worldview and to my ears sounds real, not a working man's point of view as imagined by an ambitious writer or a sympathetically condescending academic. I recommend it to you. It's definitely colloquial, and Terry Saltz is definitely tough.
    Yet, I don't think it's hardboiled. There's no angst, no "attitude." He sees that he sometimes scares customers because he's big and pony-tailed and rough-looking, and so he tries to come across as congenial because he doesn't want to slow down the transaction (speed is all in making enough money in pizza delivery) or cut his tip. He's overall realistic, takes things as they are and makes the best of them without self-pity or resentment or envy.
    If any one's read this, what's your take on "colloquial" and
"hardboiled" in its context?

Joy, who also notes this book is very well produced, with a pizza box on the cover


From: "JIM DOHERTY" <>
> Terrill,
> Re your comment below:
> > I'm with you on this one, John. I've always thought
> > the speech pattern thing
> > was a little narrow in focus. Miker, as usual, hit
> > that one with the bright
> > glare of innocent (and humorous) logic.
> Even mute people have ways of expressing themselves,
> and the way they express themselves will depend on
> their attitude, and their worldview at least as much
> as their handicap. "Colloquial" refers to a rude,
> rough-edged way of expressing oneself. It's an
> essential component of hard-boiled, because it's the
> way the hard-boiled attitude is expressed. What
> distinguished Hammett and the rest was not plot (there
> were just as many clues and classical puzzles), or,
> necessarily, milieu (much of, say, THE DAIN CURSE and
> THE BIG SLEEP take place in upper-class drawing room
> settings because the heroes' clients are upper-class),
> or even the level of violence (check out the climax of
> THE HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES for an expertly produced
> action scene). It was the language, the language of
> tough, direct working men. The way the character
> expresses himself, verbally or non-verbally, is an
> essential component.

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