Re: RARA-AVIS: Re: Walter Mosley and bad-ass sidekicks

Date: 01 Sep 2008

  • Next message: Ed Lynskey: "Re: RARA-AVIS: Re: Walter Mosley and bad-ass sidekicks"

    As has been mentioned, Parker popularized the amoral/immoral sidekick that does the violent acts that give the more upright knight pause. And since Spenser/Hawk, it's become a genre standard. A few that come to mind:

    Mosley's Easy Rawlins/Mouse Burke's Robicheaux/Clete Purcell Lehane's Kenzie & Gennaro/Bubba Block's Scudder/Mick Ballou

    Some point out that Ralph Dennis's Hardman series introduced the moral/psycho zebra pairing before Hawk entered the Spenser series (I forget, in which book did Hawk first appear?), but from the too few Hardman books I've read as they crumbled in my hands, I never got a real sense of a moral dichotomy between them. They were just buddies and partners, and neither is above some illegal gains. I don't see a moral divide in Lansdale's Hap and Leonard either. Sure, Leonard can go a bit around the bend with a gas can, but it was to burn down a drug dealer's house.

    Then there is Crais's Joe Pike. Can be far more lethal and expedient than Elvis Cole, specially in the earlier books where he's more of a cipher, but there is never any hint of immorality. In fact, most of his kicking ass seems to come from a moral certainty. Of course, Hawk has his code, too, bringing it full circle.

    Benjamin Schutz did some interesting things with his Leo Haggerty/Arnie Kendall, asking some of the hard questions raised by being an accomplice in some of the acts.

    Could all of this hark back to the western? The gunfighter had frontier skills that were useful to society, but kept him from actually becoming part of that society after he had vanquished the threat to civilization. Remember John Wayne outside the door at the end of The Searchers? So in the above pairings, the sidekick remains always on the outside while the PI has pretensions of being a part of the society? Easy Rawlins is certainly trying to firm up his position in society.


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