The world is a cruel place, but for the hard-boiled hero (and the writer and reader by extension), it's far crueler than anyone can ever imagine. And that's part of the real story most people who do not read hard-boiled fiction do not want to face. Escape is, after all, so much more pleasant. And comforting. And easy. It can be so . . . cozy. And all the answers are laid out for you at the end. What could be nicer? Well, folks, that ain't the way it is with authentic hard-boiled material. Oh, you might get a tidy answer at the end of the story, but if you do, there'll be little comfort in it, I can assure you.
Though I have nothing but respect for Lovisi and the hard-boiled/noir genres, I disagree with him on this. I like escapist fiction--Michael Crichton, Tom Clancy, Christopher Moore, Janet Evanovich. Books that are more like a roller coaster ride--pure entertainment. That's what got me into genre fiction in the first place.
And I don't know if one can make such a distinction between escape and (for lack of a better term) not escape. Take Elmore Leonard. His books are immensely entertaining and a great escape from the monotony of the real world, but he definitely comes out of the dark crime fiction tradition. Or Robert B. Parker--who definitely lands somewhere in between, especially with his later books.
Though I might be misinterpreting Lovisi's point. Perhaps the reason he (and a lot of other people) are tired of escapist fiction is because there's so much of it printed. Seems like most of the big publishing houses have room for nothing else.
The nasty stuff is relegated to the internet and the small presses, gets pushed underground. The hardboiled material (mostly) doesn't draw the attention or net the sales like Lilian Jackson Braun's next cat-solvin'-a-mystery will.
What do you all think? Are escapist books a bunch of pansy bullshit and we should stick to our noir guns?