Re: RARA-AVIS: The American Boys

From: Kukana Fields (
Date: 07 Sep 2005



Thanks for taking the trouble to track down my work-- I know you can't find it everywhere-- and I'm glad you enjoyed them.


In answer to your question: The themes are very similar, but the backdrop is shaded differently. Let me explain. These are just some quick impressions.


The "spy" genre/ political thriller in my opinion is really part of the crime family. One is about the crimes of individuals, their personal impact etc. The spy genre is about the crimes of the state, or at least the dark underbelly of the State, of all States for that matter. (Maybe not Monaco!) We follow how these political crimes -- done for good or bad causes-- effect the people that are carrying them out in the name of the State. The key difference is that the spy is a functionary of the State. So we get to this place in the 20th century where a spy/intelligence officer/soldier etc. has a license to kill, and not just in fiction either-- but in fact. The whole morality of the modern State comes into play and that is Interesting and dynamic.


If a local cop were to take the law into his own hands -- give him a license to kill-- let's say. Then we are talking about a whole different kind of person/situation. It couldn't happen legally but in the land of espionage it does happen. People are given a license to kill issued by the State. This is all very interesting to me as a novelist because it allows you to examine political issues, colonial intervention for example as I do in Red Jungle, in a way that the average person can become interested in and perhaps learn something from. I use the license to kill as an example because it's shocking and I'm trying to make a point, but the moral ambiguities is what I'm pointing at, ambiguities practiced sometimes directly in our names, so we have a stake in the story when we sit down to read, let's say the "Constant Gardener," quite different than when we sit down to read say Agatha Christie. (In the case of the Christie story we have a stake as human beings, but we didn't !
 Miss Marple.)


Are the themes the same in the two genres? Probably: redemption, alienation, etc.

But the stage is bigger. I just saw Hamlet on TV the other night. It is a crime drama but it has aspects of the political thriller too. Interesting now that I think about it.


What would be very interesting would be to juxtapose Thompson's "The Killer Inside of Me."

[My publisher just called from his car and said he was out side of Jim Thompson's place

of birth somewhere in Texas. He said he was going to spit on the ground for me a Thompsonesque thing to do I guess] with Le Carre's " The Spy Who Came In From The Cold".




"Michael S. Chong" <> wrote: Kent,

I have enjoyed all of your books that I have been able to get my hands on - Dark Ride, Dia de los Muertos, and the American Boys. What compelled you to write an 'intelligence' story with a conspiracy in it after writing 'crime' tales? Are there thematic similarities?


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