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 The Basics of the Genre

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the_librarian
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PostSubject: The Basics of the Genre   Thu Jan 10, 2008 4:20 pm





Hardboiled detective fiction is an American and now worldwide classic genre. Probably never according the respect it deserved by many in the literary field, it's contributions to American culture is present in many ways. It also, however, can be hard to define. Just what does hardboiled mean? To get started heres the topic and here's a site. Let's talk. Is it only classic fiction? What about the dolls? What about other types of detectives? Is it only old fiction that should be included? What about the Macdonalds of the '60's? Hmm...lot to think about....

Oh yeah, here's the site:

http://detnovel.com/

See ya round kid..........

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Mimi
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PostSubject: Re: The Basics of the Genre   Thu Jan 10, 2008 5:41 pm

This is why you are our Official Librarian.

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BygoneKnits
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PostSubject: Re: The Basics of the Genre   Mon Jan 14, 2008 3:22 pm

I've been mulling this over since your post -- Librarian, you pose excellent questions. I'm not a hardboiled kind of gal, I much prefer cosies. But, I was on a big chandler and James M. Cain kick for awhile (incidentally, have you noticed that the general populace isn't really familiar with Cain? Sure, the film versions of Postman, Double Indemnity, Mildred Pierce...but not the books. And surely he wrote more than that...but I've never seen anything else...actually, I don't believe I've ever seen a new edition of MP.) But I digress. I mostly wanted to address the new vs. old issue. (And this applies to cosies, as well.) Yes, I suppose you could probably include somebody like Elroy in the the hardboiled genre...but I've found there's something a bit jarring about the new vs. old...I can't QUITE put my finger on it, but I think it might have something to do with the actual prose. Even the sorta bad old pulp is better written than new entries into the genre. Not to mention the creme de la creme. Let's compare Chandler to Elroy. Sure, Chandler's Marlow is Mr. Tough Guy, often speaking in a short, staccato manner -- but he's also a thinker. Quite an intellectual, really. There's also something almost lyrical about Chandler's prose. Something very engaging. Elroy lacks that subtlety. It's almost like he's trying too hard. Further, it seems to me that while a book like The Big Sleep is somewhat complex, and the reader must pay close attention to details, L.A. Confidential is almost impossibly confusing -- Elroy gets bogged down with too many twists, turns, unnecessary sub-plots, and so on. And on top of that, hits you over the head pretty hard with the whole lot incessantly. Now, I haven't read any of the really junky new stuff (for instance that "Everybody Kills Somebody Sometime: A Rat Pack Mystery" I mentioned in another post -- I strongly suspect it's horrible, but i gave it to all of my Rat Pack-loving friends for Christmas, because, well, the premise and title was just plain funny. A joke gift.) I suspect that much of what's out there hard-boiled-wise is the same thing that's become of new cosies -- some series may sell well, but they're all really just poorly-written, uninspired versions of The Real Deal -- unintentional parodies. Even the highly-acclaimed Masie Dobbs series didn't live up to the hype, in my opinion -- I read the first three, out of curiosity ( I must be a glutton for punishment), and found them to be poorly researched, not-well written, and not at all engaging. Heck, The Bobbsey Twins are better.

So, I think all of the new entries which are supposedly meant to be of either genre are really a sub-category at best. A few years ago -- about the time the film version of L.A. Confidential was released, one heard the term "neo-noir" bandied about a lot. I think this is what contemporary entries in the hard-boiled genre are, whether of good quality or not. Just not QUITE The Real Deal.
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