Re: RARA-AVIS: Re: Definition of Thriller

From: Sean Shapiro (
Date: 06 Feb 2009

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    In my mind's ear I hear Inigo Montoya addressing Wallace Shawn's character in 'The Princess Bride' : 'You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.'

    I think that pretty much describes the publishing industry.

    Sean Shapiro

    ________________________________ From: JIM DOHERTY <> To: Sent: Friday, February 6, 2009 3:49:54 PM Subject: RARA-AVIS: Re: Definition of Thriller


    Re your proposed definition below:

    "A thriller is a novel in which danger abounds."

    Danger abounds in the Captain Aubrey books by Patrick O'Brian, the Captain Hornblower books by C.S. Forester, the Colonel Sharpe books by Bernard Cornwell, etc. You wouldn't call them thrillers, however, because they're not crime fiction.

    Similarly, even in the coziest whodunit, danger abounds. Someone's almost always dead, and mortal danger is as dangerous as it gets, and the person who made that character dead is still at large, and, therefore, still poses a danger.

    No, once more the essential elements are that it be a piece of crime fiction ("crime fiction" being synonomous with "mystery," Kerry), and that the plot emphasize action, suspense, and pace over cerebration. That the appeal, or at least the hoped-for appeal, be visceral rather than intellectual.

    My last word on the subject (which doesn't mean I won't be happy to repeat it again, and again, and again, and again, and again, until absolutely everybody agrees with me).



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