RARA-AVIS: :Hardboiled Character Traits

From: M Blumenthal ( blumenidiot@21stcentury.net)
Date: 29 Apr 2002

dick lochte:
> The quest for the ultimate definition for hardboiled is a fun game, but
> it can't be won. We're talking fiction, here, and no matter how one or
> two or one hundred of us may agree to define hardboiled, some pesky
> author either already has or soon will come along to bust the
> definition.

It amazes me how so many people care so much about the creatures of someone's mind. When I was going to officially title the best character list
(and there was a hassle about calling it best also) I had carte blanche. I could have titled it, 'The 100 Best Hard Boiled Characters in Hard Boiled Fiction, 'The Best Hard Boiled Characters in Fiction' or 'The Best Characters in Hard Boiled Fiction' I thought the repition of hard boiled in the first was unnecessary I considered the second, but considering we are talking about hard boiled fiction anyway it didn't seem right. Finally I chose the last partly to parallel the wording of the NPR list and because it seemed it would encompass best the characters I thought would be chosen.

Jim is usually very careful to strictly follow conditons and definitions. I know in the 'blown away' thread he would remind people to pay strict attention to how I had worded the qualifications. I think with the wording I chose any character in a hard boiled work should be eligible. Someone like Skink, though certainly tough and pretty colloquail when he says something, would qualify as hard boiled, but I don't consider Hiaasen's books to be hard boiled Like several I didn't think belonged he was voted in. We knew going in this couldn't be a perfect list.

I probably started this by objecting to Jim's writing that Gutman isn't hard boiled. I should have remembered he didn't have to be because he appeared in a classic of hard boiled fiction. In excuse, I objected Jim's calling him
'prissy' when he isn't though Joel Cairo certainly is.

It's hard for me to fathom how somebody can examine fictional character's fictional background to determine if that character is hard boiled. The redeeming factor of the selection process and the ensuing debate about how to determine if a character is hard boiled has probably resulted in the most activity on this list. Even if it doesn't make sense, it's fun. Mark .

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