RARA-AVIS: Re: RARA-AVIS Digest V4 #235

From: JIM DOHERTY ( jimdohertyjr@yahoo.com)
Date: 24 Apr 2002


Re your comment below:

> You are using the wrong word!

No, I'm not. I'm using precisely the word I mean to use.

> I think you mean down
> to earth behavior
> instead you are saying conversational language
> derived from the working
> class that doesn't have to follow the rules of
> formal language.

I mean language. Behavior is exhibited by action, and action is already covered by "tough." Language means the words people use and the manner in which they use them. And it doesn't have to be ungrammatical, it just has to be straightforward and casual, the way regular people talk.

> I don't see
> how you can define being hard boiled solely by the
> language.

I don't define it solely by the language. I define by actions and behavior ("tough") AND language

However, I insist on language as being a component
(NOT the sole defining characteristic, but an essential component) of hard-boiled crime fiction because language was, and is, what sets the hard-boiled mystery apart from the rest of the genre.

> Why not try
> defining hard boiled as being tough and having a
> realistic attitude?

Because not all hard-boiled characters have a realistic attitude, nor are they all realistic.

Raymond Chandler's Philip Marlowe, for example, is a shameless romantic. Mark Schorr's Red Diamond is totally delusional. Jack Webb's Joe Friday is hopelessly idealistic. As for realistic, when was the last time you ever heard of the proprietor of a one-man private detective agency tommy-gunning an entire ring of KGB agents to death? Does that make ONE LONELY NIGHT less hard-boiled?

"Tough" and "colloquial" is how I define it because it's simple, direct, uncomplicated, and covers the broadest spectrum of hard-boiled crime fiction. Come up with something more simple, more direct, and less exclusive, and I'll embrace it.


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