Re: RARA-AVIS: Macdonald versus Spillane: Daddy Figures

From: Patrick King (
Date: 02 Nov 2007

--- Michael Robison <> wrote:

> Kevin Burton Smith wrote:
> Whereas Spillane's kill-'em-all mindset probably
> finds
> more of a home with those who favor physical force
> as
> a solution to almost any problem. Daddy knows best.
> ****************
> Associating the morals of a protagonist with those
> of
> appreciative readers sounds like a solid theory to
> me.
> I went back in the archives and made a list of
> those
> who liked Lolita and sent it to the authorities.
> miker
**************************************** But seriously, Spillane is escapist literature. Mike Hammer does the things we can't do and we live for a couple of hours vicariously in a world where we do what we want and can't lose. I think the modern
"hard-boiled" genre suffers because most modern writers lose sight of this. Robert B. Parker's detectives are all in AA. Who wants a hero who's trying to work through his problems? That's not what this type of story is about. Mike Hammer can shoot better when he's drunk. Alcohol doesn't phase James Bond. Phillip Marlow can be beaten to a pulp and still bring the killer in.

I heard a news program last night stirring up fear and loathing as they proclaim, "the most violent video game ever!" A violent video game is like military intelligence or postal service, an oxymoron. No violence was ever committed playing a video game. Skateboarding is violent, not video games. Anyone is much safer reading or gaming about violent subjects than they are actually doing them. I think this is the real difference between hard-boiled and noir. Noir is cautionary and realistic. Hard-boiled throws caution to the wind. In a hard-boiled story, the hero can do anything and always succeeds in the end. It seems to me, people NEED this type of entertainment as a release for their normal impulses. If you throttle your boss everytime s/he criticizes you, you'll be out of work and in court. So it helps a little to read how Mike Hammer shoots some cop in the butt and walks away grinning. I know I can't get away with it, but I'm glad Mike does.

Patrick King

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