RARA-AVIS: Re: Most Hard-boiled

From: jimdohertyjr ( jimdohertyjr@yahoo.com)
Date: 19 Dec 2006


Re your comments below:

> Good post. I like your idea of "most realistically
> hardboiled." By that caviat, Spillane comes out of the
> picture.

True, but I still love him. As a side note, some of his cops stories, apparently based on his own short stint in law enforcement, have a realistic bite lacking in the more fantasy-driven Hammers.
> But when we dig futher, even when we deal with what seem
> like "real" cases, isn't all fiction, not just crime
> fiction, just a fantasy about "what it might be really
> like?"

Sure, and, by the same token, all fiction, no matter how fantastic, is a distillation, to one degree or another, of real life.

Nevertheless, there's a significant difference, I think you'll agree with Tolkien's LORD OF THE RINGS, for all that some of the characters are reputedly based on people he knew, and the fairy princess in particular based (so they say) on his wife, and, say, Harper Lee's TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD, which depicts th author's Deep South childhood at several fewer removes than Tolkien depicts his wife.

Similarly, the stage that characters like Mike Hammer or Race Williams strut and fret their hour upon is more fantastic, for all its familiarity, than the stage that, say, Joe Gores's DKA operatives or Rex Burns's Devlin Kirk tread. The former depict private eyes doing things no private eyes really do; the latter depict private eyes doing things like car repos, background checks, security surveys, industrial investigations, the nuts and bolts of real-life private detective work depicted as authentically as the authors can make it.

In other words, while all writing has its elements of bias, and all fiction writing its elements of fantasy, there's a difference between the deliberate fantasy of a Tolkien, or even the deliberate fantasy of the more apparently realistic Spillane, and the sincere attempt to depict a profession or an era or a childhood, in the context of fiction, as authentically as possible.


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