Re: RARA-AVIS: Back into the definitional whirlpool

From: Mark Sullivan (
Date: 15 May 2004


"Even assuming that you're right about the paucity of new PI fiction in the mid-60's (and you're certainly not altogether wrong), you seem to imply that only PI stories are hard-boiled, and that spy stories are specifically not hard-boiled."

I didn't mean to imply that. I certainly recognize that spies can be hardboiled (although Bond doesn't quite fit my idea of hardboiled, either, but that's application again). I was just arguing that a change was happening, using PIs as an example. And although PI fiction, in particular (and maybe hardboiled in general, but I haven't really thought enough about that), seems to pick up steam after wars, I think there is something qualitatively different about the work of the post-Viet Nam era. It's still clearly hardboiled in the classical sense, but some of the best of it seems to be exploring and questioning the implications of those conventions (not to say this wasn't done before).


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