Re: RARA-AVIS: And for November!!!

Date: 27 Nov 2002

In a message dated 11/17/2002 10:58:12 PM Eastern Standard Time, writes:

> I suppose crime writers didn't have to be any different than other
> writers: they could write about the Depression, or not. Jim Thompson was
> out there living it and working for the WPA, but he wrote about it later.
> Hammett was boozing and mostly not writing. Chandler was out of work from
> the oil business, if I remember right, and turned to writing to make
> money. Did Okies or Hoovervilles crop up in any of his short stories? I
> don't remember any. Prohibition wasn't repealed until 1933, and the
> gangster network didn't disappear with it, so that provided a hoods, guns
> and violence, without the poverty.
> One would think that crime writing would be closer to the down-and-outers,
> the street life and gangsters, but on the other hand the
> pulps weren't for
> realism, they were ten cent tickets to somewhere else.

Bill, While I think you're right about the pulps being a means to escape the Depression and the hard times, it seems to me that the "Crime Writers/early Noir" authors dwelt on it more than the hard boiled PI writers. I haven't read all of the era's big names, but those I have, such as Chandler and Hammett seem to be writting stories that could just as easily be set in other times (indeed I think of Marlowe more as a WWII era guy more than a 1930's era character) while those novels I've read so far of James M. Cain and Horace McCoy and Edward Anderson seem to have the Depression era as an essential part of the background. Anyway, that's just my take. Of course, when reading a pulp from the period the slang and the cultural references tend to firmly anchor the story in my mind in the 1920's - 30's milieu. But I think you're correct in saying that the main goal of a Daly or Whitfield or Gardner was escape for the reader first. Of course some incorporated the times more than others. It might be interesting to go back and read some of these guys with an eye open for just such allusions. Steven

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