Re: RARA-AVIS: RE: Societal shifts (spoilers for KISS ME DEADLY)

From: Doug Bassett (
Date: 04 Aug 2004

--- Dick Lochte <> wrote:

> >Doug Bassett wrote:
> >Books can be good or bad, but relatively few books
> lose this kind of impact
> because society marches on, I think. Less >>than
> most people think,
> anyway.
> I'd like to think this is true, because society and
> science and technology
> are marching on at a pretty fast pace. I recently
> read an S.J. Rozan short
> story that couldn't have been more than four or five
> years old that dealt
> with the illegal sale of some powder --tiger tooth,
> I think -- that had an
> aphrodisiac affect. It was completely undercut by
> the arrival of Viagra. But
> it was still a nicely written piece.

Of course anyone who reads beyond the bestseller of the moment has to be able to handle historical shifts, but that's usually not a big deal. I don't think most people have problems accommodating phone booths instead of cell phones, say. Or funk music instead of rap.

I think my idea has to do more with situations where the plot hinges on a revelation *and* the revelation is central to the effect of the piece. If that revelation is dated, then the effect is less. HALO IN BRASS is a good book, but it must've been more impressive when it first came out, more shocking. It has undeniably lost some of its power (the edition I have has a intro. by Evans himself, which more or less fesses up to this). The COLUMBO episode I talked about earlier was like that, too -- it seems charmingly dated now, a curio.

By this logic this should happen more in short fiction than novels (where "revelations" are usually more important), and TV more than movies (same reasoning).

A novel like KISS ME DEADLY is interesting because it seems to go against this. The plot hinges on a revelation and the revelation is central to the piece
-- "Juno was a man". I think the reason it works, at least for me, is that Spillane's world is nothing even close to the "real" world, it's a pretty strange alternate universe. As such, the revelation has a peculiar impact all it's own -- a confirmation of Spillane's worst nightmares?

Just some morning thoughts.


===== Doug Bassett

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