From: Robison Michael R CNIN ( Robison_M@crane.navy.mil)
Date: 05 May 2003

I read Higgins's THE FRIENDS OF EDDIE COYLE and then went through the archives and read a lot of the comments on him. The copy I have has a short intro by Leonard describing his debt to Higgins, and I've noted elsewhere that quite a few crime writers were influenced by Higgins.

What exactly did Higgins do that was so revolutionary? He's praised for his use of a colloquial Eastern gangster patois, but I saw that in Crane's MAGGIE: A GIRL OF THE STREETS. I notice that descriptive narrative is at a bare minimum, and the plot is driven predominantly by dialogue, but that could be ascribed to borrowing from the play or script media. Higgins explores the thoughts and world of the low-rent criminal, but noir fiction had been doing that for years. My guess is that it's not any one of these in particular but the combination of them all that makes the book innovative. Any thoughts on this?

And where does Higgins's book fit in as far as breaking down language barriers involving the use of profanity? Was his book a major turning point? The only thing I can think of earlier that used a lot of profanity is Iceberg Slim's PIMP (1969), but I think of it as more of an underground text playing to a different set of rules. I recall Himes substituted
"mother-raper" in COTTON COMES TO HARLEM (1965) for the more common expletive.

Thanks, miker

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