RE: RARA-AVIS: How much Background?

From: Robison Michael R CNIN (
Date: 12 May 2003

Mark wrote:

Although not taking up a lot of pages, a traumatic experience in Lloyd Hopkins's childhood plays a crucial role in explaining the character in Ellroy's Blood on the Moon. Similarly, everything in Denise Mina's Garnethill stems from the lead character's memories of childhood and her family's reaction to her bringing them out in to the open. It just occurred to me that she could be a character from a Lew Archer novel, but without Archer.
*********** Geoffrey O'Brien, in HARDBOILED AMERICA, laid the blame for an obsession with background and Freudian motivations on Faulkner. He says it dominated a lot of hardboiled and noir in the 40s, and it still seems pretty darned popular as far as I can tell. Personally, I'm kind of tired of it and rejoice at coming across a wicked hombre character who isn't portrayed as a victimized product of his environment. I have always liked Harris's Hannibal and I can't tell you how disheartening it was to hear the explanation for his peculiar diet.

This post is an addendum to what you said, Mark, and not meant to imply that Ellroy's or Mina's childhood action is either obsessive or Freudian. I have also taken some liberty with O'Brien and possibly paraphrased and extrapolated more than I should have.


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