RARA-AVIS: Re: Violence for the sake of...?

From: Dave Zeltserman ( davezelt@comcast.net)
Date: 23 Mar 2005


Thank you for taking my post out of context. To be precise I mentioned Hammett, Thomnpson, and Cain, and I didn't state that writers today should do this, but that it if the above writers could do it than it can be done. I also discussed my own internal struggle with this - whether using profanities is the easy way out and just displaying a lack of skill or whether it makes the writing more natural. And hypotheticals like "My guess is that Thompson and Cain, and especially Goodis, would have loved to use more natural street language but simply couldn't" is kind of ridiculous (or should I say "fucking" ridiculous). Actually, everything I've read about Thompson would contradict that statement - he was kind of an old fashioned guy who couldn't understand Stanley Kubrick not wearing a suit to work. Did Willeford use profanities in his writing? I've read a lot of his works, and that doesn't stand out. Going to have to double check on that.

Btw. I've seldom (if ever) found Hammett's writing/dialogue awkward, but I've found many current writers who try to use street language sounding awkward and unnatural.

Won't get into The Pulp Fiction question since I love that movie, and besides I wasn't talking about movies, but really talking about my own internal struggle on the issue. So don't take offense - I'm not saying what you should do or implying any lack of skill on your part, but more questioning out loud what I should be doing.

-Dave Z.

--- In rara-avis-l@yahoogroups.com, "crimeflix" <jmks100@a...> wrote:
> A poster the other day talked about how Thompson, Cain, Chandler,
> wrote excellent tough prose without cursing, so writers today
> do the same...This really doesn't make sense to me at all. Of
> it's possible to write tough without cursing but writers in
the '50s
> were constrained by the times. My guess is that Thompson and Cain,
> and especially Goodis, would have loved to use more natural street
> language but simply couldn't--their publishers wouldn't have all
> it. Good writing usually overcomes this but sometimes the lack of
> profanities in writers for that era sticks out for me. I love
> Highsmith, for example, but sometimes her writing seems awkard to
> when she writes something like "he cursed" without letting us know
> what the curse is...IMHO, George V. Higgins really opened up the
> language of crime fiction with the The Friends of Eddie Coyle, and
> later Willeford and Leonard picked up the torch...Today, I think,
> crime writers have much more freedom of language the 50's pulp
> writers, and this is a good thing....Similarly, the language in
> films has evolved. Think Double Indemnity vs. Pulp Fiction?
> Double Indemnity was effective without cursing that means that
> Fiction should've had no cursing because Double Indemnity was a
> classic? Sorry, but that just doesn't hold up for me.....
> J
> http://www.jasonstarr.com

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