RARA-AVIS: Re: Nag, Nag, Nag Noir

From: Kevin Burton Smith (kvnsmith@sbcglobal.net)
Date: 24 Jul 2009

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    Rambling on my mind...

    Mario wrote:

    > What I don't like about Kevin's rhetoric is that it would lead to
    > throwing out talented practitioners who have not invented a genre or
    > a subgenre but till and cultivate their own parcel and do so
    > exceedingly well.

    Not to dis your "rhetoric," Mario, but NOWHERE did I rail against talented people working in a pre-existing genre.

    Why would I? That's more or less the whole point of THE THRILLING DETECTIVE WEB SITE, and of most of my posts. I WANT talented people to work in the genres I love. And I try to ENCOURAGE those who show promise by singing their praise when warranted and publishing their stories.

    How that would lead to "talented" practitioners who work in a genre being "thrown out" is beyond me.

    Lord knows publishing is not a level playing field, but I really try to make sure my little bit of turf is as fair as I can make it. Granted, I draw the line at making excuses for inferior work. I think constructive criticism is more useful than bubble-headed, empty praise.

    But hey, that's me.

    I'm also not big on people who claim they're inventing a whole new sub- sub-genre -- or usie the "I was only joking" defence -- when they fall short of their goals and get called for their excesses and lousy writing.

    But thanks for taking the time to single me out for my rhetoric. And its dire consequences.

    > I realize I got somewhat off-track. To be continued.

    No doubt.

    * * * *

    And Jeff wrote:

    > . . . said a man who's read everything by Jim Thompson, which should
    > be a prerequisite to belonging to the list.

    But do we have to pretend to like it? All of it? Even the crappy stuff? Like Cain, Thompson was a very uneven writer, and the Grade Z paperback publishers he worked for in the latter half of his career
    (when he was drunk on his ass half the time) weren't exactly big on editing.

    How far should this Thompson fixation go? Do we also then have to stomach every bit of bad Thompson inflicted on us by pretentious, name- dropping wannabes?

    Or can we just pretend to like it, without actually having to read it?

    * * * *

    As for "fuck," I have no idea what the fuck Kerry was talking about...

    Oh, wait, I do. It's summed up in his last line:

    > Of course, the characters in the books you read may not have said
    > "fuck" very well.

    That's the crux, right there. It's not the word "fuck" or the nail gun body piercings and incest orgies and pool cue nostril insertions and steering wheel pissing or whatever Gitmo-ready fantasy is "in" this week that bothers me, so much as the disconnect between action and character. So little thought is given to character in some of the stuff I see that their actions and dialogue come off as shallow and pointless as the characters that perpetuate them.

    Give me a believable character, though, create a viable world, and I can believe almost anything that happens.

    Mark, here's an EXAMPLE.

    PET SEMETARY by Stephen King, arguably his best book. Were it not for the finely rendered home life of the nuclear family in the early pages
    (the breakfast table squabbles over cereal between siblings are note- perfect), I'd probably have had a very hard time buying into the rest of it, which concerns haunted burial grounds and the resurrection of the dead.

    Which reminds me: when's King going to do a REAL crime story? He's done a few shorts, but THE COLORADO KID was actually more a story about stories than anything else. People who love a good literary joke, like me, or like to use the word "post" a lot (and aren't fencing salesmen) should get a big kick out of it.

    Or flat out hate it. It's that kind of book. We covered it at our mystery reading group when it first came out, and the reaction was decidedly mixed. But everyone read it through right to the final GOTCHA!

    Charles, take a bow.

    Kevin Burton Smith Editor/Founder The Thrilling Detective Web Site
    "Wasting your time on the web since 1998."

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