Re: Re : RARA-AVIS: Political thrillers - Mandel

Date: 26 Aug 2008

  • Next message: E. Borgers: "Re : RARA-AVIS: Political thrillers - Mandel"


    Re your comment below:

    "Sayers and Christie are essentially irrelevant today, whereas both the Hammett-Chandler tradition and the Thompson, Goodis, Woolrich et al are more relevant than ever."

    I obviously prefer hard-boiled/noir to stories in the Christie/Sayers tradition. My column in MYSTERICAL-E isn't called "I Like "em Cozy," after all.

    That said, nobody who continues to be in print so long after their death can be called "irrelevant."

    They still sell. More to the point, if you talk to the owner of any mystery bookstore, they'll tell you that their best-selling sub-genre is the cozy, so they still continue to wield influence. Popularity may not be a reliable gauge of quality, but, after all, neither is toughness and a colloquial style, nor is a dark, sinister atmosphere. Continued popularity, over time, however, is certainly evidence of some sort of relevance, since it indicates that the books written in that tradition still speak to a large number of readers. And Christie and Sayers have continued to be popular over time, and the sub-genre that they are so emblematic of is remains popular over time.

    If you mean that Christie/Sayers no longer reflect the real world, well, that's certainly true. But they never did, and if that's the ruler you're using, they never were relevant in that sense, and never really intended to be.

    What they were, however, is well-crafted entertainment that continues to entertain decades and decades after first hitting the bookstore. Well-crafted entertainment is always relevant. Further, Ms. Sayers in particular is a much better writer than most people who've never read her realize.

    I can only hope that, if I ever sell my novel, it will be as irrelevant as the work of Christie and Sayers.

    It's also worth noting that, in terms of reflecting the real world, Philip Marlowe, and all the legions of PI's who slavishly follow the "Marlowe Paradigm," are, in their way, just as unrealistic, and, consequently, just as "irrelevant," as Poirot or Lord Peter.



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