RARA-AVIS: Implausibility

From: Kevin Burton Smith (kvnsmith@thrillingdetective.com)
Date: 12 Oct 2010

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    Patrick King wrote:

    > I think perhaps surreal is a
    > better term for Ellroy's over-the-top elements rather than implausible. Agatha
    > Christi is implausible. Ellroy is surreal.

    Christie implausible? I guess. But remember, it's a whole different genre. One where implausibility is part of the escapist package. And to give Christie her due, she was generally a great plotter, and while her character's motives may have been far-fetched, the evil she wrote about was very plausible indeed. And her characters remained true to the world she created. In that sense, she was an honest writer.

    Unfortunately, Christie often has to bear the brunt for all the sins committed in the often inferior cozy and amateur sleuth mysteries she inspired.

    And even hard-boiled and especially noir, the allegedly "realistic" schools of crime fiction, certainly have their own traditional moments of implausibility. Call it surreal, if you want, but often Ellroy is no more "true" than Christie. Werewolf serial killer panty sniffers more "real" than genteel British folks bumping each other off on a lazy sunday afternoon at a big house in the country? Flip a coin.

    There are plenty of tropes in our own turf that have to be taken with a grain of salt. Implausibility is in the eye of the genre reader.


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