Re: RARA-AVIS: Re: Torture Porn

From: Kerry J. Schooley (
Date: 05 Jul 2007

At 09:29 PM 04/07/2007, you wrote:

>I think Bill's been very generous in letting us talk about movies at
>all, so I'll not try his patience other than to say HOSTEL got its
>rep not by being good but by making an awful lot of money. That's my
>perception anyway.

I've sort of been wondering where Bill is these days. I've had the sense lately that discussion has ranged further away from the core topic of noir and hardboiled literature, meaning books, than it used to before I'd get my slap on the wrist in an off-list email from our maker.

>Hope you have some fun with Hard Man. I certainly had fun writing it.

And I had fun reading it. It was good to meet up with Mum again, especially as she's dead. She's a classic, and lingers in the way that makes her so: in our hearts and minds. The violently inept Baxter family had their moments as well. They were the classic noir characters whose downfall began with one bad decision- to imagine themselves as hard cases, tough enough to put an end to the perceived, negative influence of a real hard case over someone they cared for, when the recognized authorities could not. There's plenty of that going around, and it seldom works out well.

I too was repulsed by the violence in the cellar, and I admit I was momentarily tempted to stop reading in order to proclaim my personal refinement and ascribe all sorts of inferior motivations to the author. However, in this case I carried on, having read some of the author's earlier works, and corresponded with him on this list. I do know from some of that earlier correspondence that the author has no axe to grind, no point to make, no motivation, conscious or otherwise, to write what he does, other than to entertain his readers. Nevertheless I came away with a sense that the real Hard Man of the title was not any of the toughs inflicting the violence in the book, but the victim who endured it. I'm looking forward to reading what effect this will have on Pearce in the next one.

BTW Allan I agree that violence is not necessarily physical, and no less violent for it. Violence can be practiced at a distance, indirectly through others and has been institutionalized as such, usually making it easier to practice. Tarantino's movies to me illustrate, intentionally or otherwise, how violence is ritualized in culture, especially the Kill Bills. Oh, and remember the character in Pulp Fiction whose job it was to clean up after a massacre? It was his job, removing the gore his recognized specialty. Didn't he sound a lot like a high-school guidance counsellor, or one of those psychologists they call in to provide grief counselling after some violent incident, making sure everyone gets through the trauma like it was an isolated accident, putting the indirect victims of violence back on the highway of life?

Did to me. Oh well. Better stop there or I'll be getting another one of those off-list emails from Bill.

Best, Kerry

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