Re: RARA-AVIS: Profesionals and amateurs

From: Al Guthrie (
Date: 25 Feb 2003

----- Original Message ----- From: "William Denton" <>

> And the noir world is amateurs and innocents. I think we've talked about
> this before, a while back. The hardboiled world is full of professionals
> who are very good at what they do, from the Continental Op to Marlowe to
> Hammer to Matt Helm to Amos Walker to Buzz Meeks to ... Derek Strange?
> McGee is a pro, and he doesn't like dealing with amateurs in anything.
> Neither, on the criminal side, does Parker. He teams up with other
> experienced, expert thieves, and if an amateur is involved, there'll be
> trouble. They can't take the pressure and they're not up to the right
> level. (See: Spade making a fool of Wilmer, the gunsel.)
> Being "swept up in a noirish nightmare" really only happens to innocents
> and losers. Compare Parker to a cheap hood from a David Goodis book.
> Cornell Woolrich, Jim Thompson (mostly), Jason Starr: all write about
> messed-up people who get caught up in situations way beyond their control.

Noir fiction often (but by no means exclusively) has a victim or criminal protagonist. Hardboiled fiction often (but by no means exclusively) has a detective protagonist.

You find out if you write a parody (as I've just done) that it's difficult to convince if you write noir from the detective's viewpoint or hardboiled from the victim's. It can be done, of course. But it ceases to be as convincing a parody. At least, that's my experience.


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