Re: RARA-AVIS: amoral noir/hardboiled protagonists

From: Mario Taboada (
Date: 29 Aug 2003

What I find particularly interesting are protagonists who are apparently normal but never did develop a strong character (they are essentially confused adolescents, often resentful and selfish ones). When something disrupts their lives, their dormant amorality can erupt and they become monsters.

Great examples of such characters in recent or fairly recent novels: the protagonists of Westlake's _The Ax_ and Jason Starr's _Hard Feelings_, as well as Dave Zeltserman's PI Johnny Lane.

As to Parker, I can't see him as a fully formed character. He has been given a perfect functional description by Stark, but besides planning and executing heists, I can't tell what he thinks or believes in, or why. That Westlake has succeeded time after time under such limitations is a miracle, a glowing example of the "show, don't tell" method.



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