RE: RARA-AVIS: Mr T's tease

From: Robison Michael R CNIN (
Date: 23 Jul 2002

Mario said: I wasn't teasing. The observation comes from my whole experience reading British and American fiction. I find British fiction, particularly English fiction, to be drier, more subdued, more self-deprecating than its American counterpart. Human nature being universal, the toughness is probably the same, but the expression in language is different.


i have wisely kept quiet on the british theme. sadly, i just haven't read enough to form much of an opinion. but from what little i have read, rankin's _black book_ and starling's _messiah_, there appears a distinct difference between british and american hardboiled, especially in character makeup and the atmosphere, but other than simple cultural and colloquial differ- ences, its hard for me to put my finger on it.

colder, perhaps? i guess i'd say that for sure. com- pared to the two brit books i mentioned, americans in hardboiled are in a constant state of emotional turmoil. take rebus for example. in _the black book_ rebus's world is turned inside out. his girlfriend's tossed him out, his brother is kidnapped and left hanging from a bridge, and a good cop friend of his is brutally beaten and in the hospital, and rebus is kicked off the force. and yet he still shrugs it off with a minimum of angst and seems to be operating sharply. under similar conditions, burke's dave robicheaux (sp?) would have either drank himself senseless or indulged in an out-of-body dreamworld experience, mike hammmer would have killed at least two people, and travis mcgee would have bedded two hot babes.

i had jokingly commented earlier on the lack of sex in the two books i had read, but i think it fits with the
"cold" theory. sex is an act of passion, if not love, and just doesn't fit the characters or writing style in either of these two novels. now i'm certain that folks can point out any number of brit hardboiled novels where the characters are going at it like rabbits, but that doesn't fit comfortably in with my premise, and will be duly ignored. ;-)

both starling's red and rankin's rebus both have a habit of being cranky and rude with their friends, without any bad feelings or apologies later on. more coldness.

the noir atmosphere of both these brit novels is relent- ess, with very little relief. you find this in american stuff too, like thompson's _the killer inside me_ or block's _when the sacred ginmill closes_, but a big chunk of american noir has some lighter moments. there is a time in cain's _postman_ where things are looking good for frank and cora. the same can be said for keechie and bowie in anderson's _thieves like us_. i've got derek raymond's _he died with his eyes open_. from what i hear, there's not a lot of laughs in it, either.

making generalizations about british lit based on two novels is absurd, but mario jumped up and pointed to the differences, and his experience paralleled mine (he says
"subdued" and "drier", and i chose "cold"), so i thought it worth mentioning. keep in mind my comments are about differences only, and are not meant as criticism.


# To unsubscribe from the regular list, say "unsubscribe rara-avis" to
#  This will not work for the digest version.
# The web pages for the list are at .

This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : 23 Jul 2002 EDT