RARA-AVIS: Re: Father Figure

From: Joy Matkowski (jmatkowski1@comcast.net)
Date: 14 Aug 2008

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    For PIs, John Shannon's Jack Liffey has a daughter, usually living with his ex-wife but providing plenty of complications when she isn't.

    For spies, Charlie Muffin's wife, Edith, died as a result of his career.
    (I'm reading Charlie Muffin, U.S.A., now, and I should have read this series in order.)


    JIM DOHERTY listed some cops and spies' marital status:
    > Re your comment below:
    > "Harry Bosch has a 5 year old daughter with Eleanor Wish."
    > Yeah, but Harry's a cop, and, at one time, he was Elly's husband.
    > It's not at all unusual for the heroes of police procedurals to be married
    > and have kids. And it shouldn't be. Police procedurals are supposed to
    > be accurate depictions of law enforcement in real life, and in real life,
    > most cops are married (or at least have been, at one time or another) and
    > have kids.
    > Off-hand, McBain's Steve Carella, Creasey's George Gideon, Waugh's Fred
    > Fellows, Wilcox's Frank Hastings, Procter's Harry Martineau, Sjowall &
    > Wahloo's Martin Beck, and Treat's Mitch Taylor are all husbands (or
    > ex-husbands) and fathers.
    > In the arena of the hard-boiled private eye, however, husbands and fathers
    > are lot less frequent. Gores's Dan Kearney (and we glimpse very little of
    > his family life in the books), and Pronzini's "Nameless," who adopted a
    > little girl with his wife Kerry a few books ago, are among the very few.
    > I imagine spies who are married with children are fairly unusual, too.
    > James Bond married a woman in ON HER MAJESTY'S SECRET SERVICE, but was
    > almost immediately widowed, and, with another woman, fathered a child in
    > YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE, but, at least in the original Fleming Canon, was
    > completely unaware of it. Hamilton's Matt Helm had three kids, but they
    > all came along during the hiatus from the secret agent biz preceding DEATH
    > It's not hard-boiledness of a character, per se, that works against family
    > life in crime fiction. It's the expectations that come with the
    > particular sub-genre. We expect PI's and spies to be lone wolves, because
    > PI's and spies, in fiction, are mythical figure. This is so pervasive an
    > expectation that, as James pointed out, Brett Halliday had to kill off
    > Mike Shayne's wife because a hard-boiled PI who was a family man struck
    > too dissonant a note (at least for movie producers).
    > We don't necessarly expect that of realistically depicted policemen, who,
    > for all their tougness and colloquial mode of expression, are far less
    > likely to be figures of myth.

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