RE : Re: RARA-AVIS: Opinions

From: E. Borgers (
Date: 10 Jul 2007

._,___ Excellent post, Mark. Right in the heart of the problem. :
  "Mark wrote:
  Sometimes I wonder if we don't lose something as we become "experts" in our genre. As we read more and more in the field, we inevitably become pickier, which is fine when we are just talking about quality of writing. But do we also start losing some of the simple enjoyment of being immersed in a story as we simultaneously analyze it in the back of our heads: Is this hardboiled? Noir? How does it relate to other books in the field? Other books by this author? How does it fit into the evolution in the field? I am still carried away by books, but it doesn't seem to happen as deeply as often."

  -We all go through these phases due to the enlarging of our reader experience, and it leads often to new ideas, new angles. Not for the fun of being new, but elements hidden behind multiple apparently unlinked knowledges may suddenly be leading to a more complete way to see things in literature. Absolute certainty (except for factual elements, of course) about subjects that are all tinted with subjectivity is pure delusion. We also must be ready to evolve and to learn more, or at least to be open to it. Otherwise we will finish as old hardheads, mumbling always the same things about crime lit and its diversity.
  And you're right:: too much readings, even if it reinforces your analysis power, rises your expectations and may kill the pleasure you could otherwise find in some readings. Age could have the same effect. It's also therefore that we can be almost sure that being carried away by some books, even if I's happening more rarely than before, is a sign that we face a work of exception… And if we continue it is only because we still are hoping for it.
"Then again, we also pick up things a causal reader probably wouldn't, homages, parodies, intertextual references, get jokes a beginner might not. For instance, I mentioned recently how I recognized a bunch of Chandler references in Ted Lewis's Boldt, from a character named Florian to a club called the Blue Dahlia. And in re-reading Sallis's Long-Legged Fly, I picked up a passing joke I missed the first time. Lew is looking at the names on some New Orleans mailboxes and sees W. Percy and R. Queneau. I knew who Walker Percy was the first time I read it, but I had never heard of Raymond Queneau before, nor the literary movement he's associated with, Oulipo (not that I've read him, but I did recognize the name this time). "
  -Yes, even decoding depends on experience, cultural backgrounds etc.
  In my case, French educated, I spotted immediately the reference to Raymon Queneau, but missed the Walker Percy one. My background is different…. Not better.
  PS: Maybe you will be interested to know that in the OuLiPo association there is, since some years now (1973) , a section called OuLiPoPo, wherein the last "Po" is for "Polici貥", by ref to Litt鲡ture Polici貥 (crime lit in French; "polici貥" being an adjective which derivates from the word police - police : same meaning as in English ). Some French noir contemporary authors refer themselves as inspired by OuLiPo and/or "pataphysique", Amongst them: Franz Bartelt (very black humor in farcical stories mixed with some cold horror; a skilled stylist) - J-B Pouy, talented writer who mixed unannounced Oulipo tricks in "some" of his novels, like starting each chapter (26 total) by a different letter- in alphabetical order, or things even more of the surrealist/pataphysique orientation like publishing a book written by an Austrain philosopher, announced as translated by Pouy; in fact he invented the life and bibliogr of the fake philosopher, and wrote the book in French
 (but along humor and derision he wrote also deeply moving noir stories).


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