Friday, December 25, 2009

DSD Secret Santa: Crime Fiction and Fast Food

Russel D McLean

As The Estimable Mister White said yesterday, I’ve been away and working on my tan (yeah, because that’s what booksellers do at this time of year – spend the days out on the beach, especially in Scotland), but how could I overlook the chance to do the Christmas Day DSD Secret Santa Post?

So you know how this works: the evil genius (ie, The Stringer’s incredibly smart girl) distributed random topics suggested by your heroic bloggers to each member of the team. In between moaning about work (as Dave pointed out, I do a lot) I managed to sneak a look at my topic.

So we present, on Christmas Day (in the morning), my reply to the following challenge:

"Compare crime fiction to your favourite fast food restaurant..."


Now, those of you know of my sordid past will also know of my antipathy towards a certain very well known chain of fast food restaurants for whom I worked as a teenager. I will not mention them by name, but let’s say that they were responsible for my general weight gain which I never ever shook off.

But that’s not to say I have a thing against fast food. Oh no, as you may gather I do love my food. And by love, I mean adore.

And I was thinking about this, what fast food places do I like?

And I started thinking about all those pizza delivery places I dig. And the restaurants, too. Now, it’s tough for me to pick an outright favourite chain or anything, but let’s talk about pizza in general as a metaphor for crime fiction.

Pizza, as one of my ex-bosses used to say, is nothing more than “fancy cheese on toast.”. And I think the same could said of crime fiction. In a purely metaphorical way. At the heart of the genre, there is a base of conventions. Some of these are different – you have stuffed crust serial killers and Neopolitan procedurals – but these variations of our fancy metaphorical cheese on toast are only your starting point. I mean, sometimes all you want is a basic pizza, a base and the cheese (and the tomato paste which is the fancy bit).

But then it comes to the toppings. Those little additions that add a unique taste and texture. I like to think of these as equivalent to the author adding their own personality, voice and quirks to the solid base of their pizza. This is where they get creative, where new tastes are discovered, where the “fancy cheese and toast” becomes something different, occasionally even unrecognisable.

So, there you go. Crime fiction as fast food, specifically pizza. Insane ramblings or genuine metaphor? Only you can decide. I’d like to thank whoever gave me this topic, as well, because I used it as an excuse to order pizzas in order to indulge in some top quality… um… research.

Yeah, that’s what it is.

Anyone know if I could put them down as expenses?

Anyway, my dear DSDers, I just want to wish you all a merry Christmas and hope that, even if ain’t a holiday you celebrate, that all the same you have a wonderful day. And I shall leave you with James Brown and his wish that you have a soulful Christmas.

Get down!

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