Re: RARA-AVIS: Re: RARA-AVIS Digest V4 #231

From: Ray Skirsky (
Date: 24 Apr 2002

At 07:07 PM 4/23/2002 -0400, Kerry wrote:

>I'm going to climb halfway out on Jim's limb here ( keeping an eye on his
>saw hand) and agree there are significant working class atmopherics to
>hardboil. Class can be fluid and speech patterns are characteristic, but
>not defining. That colloquialism branch is getting shakier with each
>defense. I think that hardboil implies a workmanlike approach to life, as
>if it's a tough job, but somebody has to get on with it. The genre is an
>exploration of what this means as much as a definition of it. Surely a
>good, hardboiled story can be made about an unexpected character rising to
>the gritty occasion.

Perhaps rather than colloquialism as a defining characteristic, it's just that every so often you have to be a smartass. Maybe it's the sarcastic, cutting response to threats, violence, etc., that is the defining verbal characteristic of hard-boiled.
  Add in some street-wise toughness, and, voila, hard-boiled :-).

>I believe what defines this "workmanlike" approach is the attitude toward
>death. Hardboil or noir recognizes the inevitability of death, and
>entertains the possibility that this may be a good thing. Cosies are
>fantasies that make light of death to reassure readers.

I think cozies are more designed to be humorous. If you read some of Charlotte Macleod's early books, the killer usually turns out to be some respectible character who has a long-history of murder, fraud, and mayhem in their past. This is not reassuring.


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