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

From: M Blumenthal (
Date: 24 Apr 2002


>> 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
> ("colloquial").
> 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.

Jim, I'm making some progress. Now you concede hard boiled is not solely language. You hadn't done that earlier. I'll now have to get you to concede that being born wealthy and/or having a good education does not preclude a character from being hard boiled. There is free will . People can have their situation change either by their own volition or because circumstances change. A few examples of characters in the best 111 who ostensibly do not meet all your criteria are Richard Bone, (Cutter and certainly Mo also would fall under this category, but they didn't make the cut.) Bruce Wayne, James Figueroas, Milo Milodragovitch and C W Sugrue
(Crumley, who I always considered a writer of hard boiled fiction, can't restrain himself from having his two protagonists sometimes write some very lyrical passages)

An assassin like James Bond you say is not hard boiled. It seems to me any lawyer or doctor would be disqualified by you. There must be series featuring criminologists. I haven't read them, but they must be too educated to be hard boiled. How about the commisioner of police in a big city? He figures to be wealthy, but he would have had to come up the ranks to be hard boiled. Any one or two word description seems inadequate to me and any arbitary means of disualifying someone can't serve either. Mark

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