Re: RARA-AVIS: Hardboiled Character Traits - Balzic

From: Chris Martin (
Date: 29 Apr 2002

Mario said:
>It occurs to me that crime literature may have moved beyond
>the hardboiled vs. cozy (or dark vs. light, etc.) dichotomy...

I agree, though I'm glad this list is devoted to the hard-boiled end of the spectrum (with brief asides for crucial subjects such as miker's key lime pie recipe).

I've had a hard time thinking of anything to offer in the definition debate because (like others on the list) I consider the writing itself and not specific characters. That said, tough and colloquial certainly must apply to the writing.

What's great about Jim's definition is that it is inclusive enough to include writers like Cormac McCarthy and Richard Price who are not normally associated with some of the other favorites on this list. I mention this because in a Pelecanos interview that someone linked here, he said that in Europe his books are compared alongside DeLillo and Robert Stone, while in America he is often labeled as "just" a crime fiction writer. I'm glad that we have a definition that accurately describes the books without limiting them to conventional genre trappings.

(I recognize that you've got to be a real prick to use a phrase like
"conventional genre trappings" and take yourself seriously, but my time is short and I can't think of anything else on the fly.)

Best, Chris

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