RARA-AVIS: Re: Parker as an Influence

From: jacquesdebierue ( jacquesdebierue@yahoo.com)
Date: 16 Apr 2008

--- In rara-avis-l@yahoogroups.com, Kevin Burton Smith <kvnsmith@...> wrote: ead.
> But it's not what YOU'D read that counts so much as what other people
> would read -- and are reading.

Well, yes and no. If I'm compiling statistics of what people read, then everything counts. But if I'm giving my opinion, it' what I read that counts -- and what I consider good.

> Yep, your disdain for the work of "that lot", particularly Grafton and
> Paretsky, has been duly and regularly noted.

Huh? I never expressed disdain for Grafton or Paretsky. I have praised
 Grafton's plots and Paretsky's hardboiledness. My comment referred to the fact that for me, the books have not held up when I have tried to reread them.

> Well, it's been twenty-five years now, and the books by Grafton and
> Paretsky's series are still going strong (as are those of people like
> Crais and Mosley and Pelecanos),

I'm a fan Mosley and Pelecanos. Crais, I can easily do without.

>You may not like the new breed, but there's no
> denying their popularity. And we are, after all, dealing with pop/pulp
> fiction. It's what people actually read -- not what you or I think
> they SHOULD read -- that counts.

Again, see above. Counts for what? For assessing the sales of the genre, you would look at what sells. But I don't really care how many copies of a book are sold. I care whether it's good.

> The changes brought to the genre in the seventies and eighties have
> endured, and what's popular in the hard-boiled P.I. genre has already
> changed.

But what were the changes of the seventies and eighties, as a whole? That would be an interesting topic of discussion, I think.

> Without, I think, changing the essential nature of the P.I. sub-genre.
> Ultimately it still rests on an individual, a "man" of his times,
> trying to go down those so-and-so mean streets, trying to do right in
> a world where it probably won't do a lick of good. It doesn't mean
> more traditional P.I. fare has disappeared, or that it doesn't still
> sell, but the pale male lone wolf eye -- a frequent object of derision
> even in Chandler's day -- is no longer the only game in ShamusTown.

I am a little confused here. I spoke of an explosion (lots of material being published) but you are now implying that there was a revolution in the PI genre, i.e., great innovations. We should discuss what those innovations are. Just to be concrete, what were the innovations brought by Sue Grafton and Sara Paretsky to the PI genre?

> In many ways I think Parker not only revived but refreshed the P.I.
> genre, tailoring it for a reading public that had lost interest, but
> without sacrificing one drop of the obvious appeal and respect he has
> for the genre. (And it's interesting to note that, while the once-
> massive popularity of the P.I. in film and television has withered
> away to almost nothing, private eye novels still regularly make the
> best seller lists).

But what did he do that was new? To me, he is a Chandler imitator, mainly.

>I don't mind retro, but
> god save us from a slavish devotion to a past that shriveled up and
> died ages ago.

I don't much like retro or nostalgia, either.



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