I'm headed out to Bouchercon tomorrow where I'm supposed to be on a panel discussing the definition of Hard Boiled. Other than saying "hardboiled is when the violence happens on the page..." is there anything else to say? I mean, the definition of Noir gives people fits, but isn't hardboiled pretty straight forward? Am I missing a nuance? Call me stupid, but I'm not sure I can see what to do with the other 59 minutes of the panel.

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Hmmm. Seems like a pretty flat topic. I see that Denise Hamilton is on your panel; she's good at mixing things up. Maybe you guys can talk about reactions from family members and friends to your work, when it's important to have graphic violence and when it's not, and whether you have certain limits or lines where you won't cross.

What attracts you to hardboiled books and early influences, etc.? I'm sure that you'll have a great discussion. Hope the moderator is good.
Hard boiled huh? Violence yes but I also think it tends to be a more professional type of story - police, private investigator rather than amateur sleuth. Usually some rather graphic violence to the protag himself/herself. Story lines that are a bit darker, not with the whole Noir atmosphere but subjects that are on the edge of dark and icky.
That interview has a mention of hardboiled vs noir. Another site listed Noir as having come out of the "the new American Hardboiled genre which had come out of Mystery Fiction". Rather like a family tree.

Have great fun at B'con!
You'll do a nice job, Steven. Talk about setting, characters, themes, dialogue. Didn't your moderator give you a list of items? They usually do. Good luck and have a great time! And your own new hardboiled is terrific!
Don't think I got anything from the moderator though I would be the first to admit I might have and simply erased it.

Of course, another way to define hardboiled is "It's like real life, but toned down..."
I'm pretty much in line with LC, but would add voice to her list. To me, hard-boiled (and I hate that term) fiction carries a cynical undertone to all aspects of it, carried by a protagonist who often wants not to feel that way, but knows better. Noir has few heroes, and a feeling of hopelessness, and fatal resignation. Hard-boiled heroes still want things to come out right, and will win partial victories, but it's rarely enough.

Have fun at Bouchercon.
I think Raymond Chandler came pretty close:

...But down these mean streets a man must go who is not himself mean, who is neither tarnished nor afraid. The detective in this kind of story must be such a man. He is the hero, he is everything. He must be a complete man and a common man and yet an unusual man. He must be, to use a rather weathered phrase, a man of honor, by instinct, by inevitability, without thought of it, and certainly without saying it. He must be the best man in his world and a good enough man for any world. I do not care much about his private life; he is neither a eunuch nor a satyr; I think he might seduce a duchess and I am quite sure he would not spoil a virgin; if he is a man of honor in one thing, he is that in all things. He is a relatively poor man, or he would not be a detective at all. He is a common man or he could not go among common people. He has a sense of character, or he would not know his job. He will take no man’s money dishonestly and no man’s insolence without a due and dispassionate revenge. He is a lonely man and his pride is that you will treat him as a proud man or be very sorry you ever saw him. He talks as the man of his age talks, that is, with rude wit, a lively sense of the grotesque, a disgust for sham, and a contempt for pettiness. The story is his adventure in search of a hidden truth, and it would be no adventure if it did not happen to a man fit for adventure. He has a range of awareness that startles you, but it belongs to him by right, because it belongs to the world he lives in.
If there were enough like him, I think the world would be a very safe place to live in, and yet not too dull to be worth living in.
Whenever this topic comes up I immediately think of answers that Al Guthrie has given.

First there is the classic - "the Crucifixion is noir and the Resurrection hardboiled"

then - "hardboiled is about toughness and noir is about pain"

then - "Take the Aristotelian definition of tragedy; remove the rule about the hero having to start from a high social position, and you're close to noir. Someone much smarter then me (I think it was Dennis Lehane) described noir as working-class tragedy, and that's a very great way of putting it. Noir has been around forever, even if we didn't always have a label to define it. Literary noir is the same, but the 'literary' epithet simply suggests that there's more internalization. Hardboiled merely refers to style: tough and colloquial."
The "working class" bit may be a 20th century focus in fiction in general.
"hardboiled is about toughness and noir is about pain."

Steven you might research the origins of the term. I believe it was first applied to Dashiell Hammett's work at a time when Agatha Christie and all that cozy stuff was ascendant. It meant characters and description based more on reality. Hammett had started out as a Pinkerton's detective and was the first to get gritty, so to speak. What the term means now I'm not sure...


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