Re: RARA-AVIS: The moral implication of killing

From: Curt Purcell (
Date: 24 Oct 2007

--- In, Michael Robison
<miker_zspider@...> wrote:
> Killing as a solution to problems permeates hardboiled
> and noir.

So does brutal interrogation, but I hardly see the hot lights and rubber hoses of a Gold Medal classic as an appropriate jumping-off point for a debate about Abu-Ghraib or Gitmo. Why? Because fiction is fiction. It's make-believe, no matter how "realistic" it pretends to be. That's why I read it. I enjoy reading about tough cops working over slimy crooks. But I hate real torture, and when I want to upset myself about it, I go read political blogs.

I love the screaming tag-line for Flynn's Deadly Boodle: HELL-BENT FOR THE GAS CHAMBER!! You gotta love that! But I'm a lot less enthusiastic if you ask me what I think about the death penalty, for real. I'm not wholeheartedly opposed, but my feelings are a lot more mixed in real life than they are when I'm reading something hardboiled or noir, where part of the fun is in watching tough or desperate characters gamble with their very lives against a highly stylized, mythologized legal/penal system.

I don't want to suggest that discussions of real topics that were almost certainly on the minds of various hardboiled authors shouldn't be indulged in, but I do experience a strong disconnect between my attitudes as a reader of fiction and my attitudes as a concerned real-life citizen, with respect to a lot of those issues.

I think, as someone else mentioned, it would be nice if the hardboiled/noir frame of reference remained firmly in the foreground of any such discussions, so they don't just become banal, interminable squabbles over insoluble hot-button issues.

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