What the hell do you mean by “Hard-boiled,” for that matter?

“It is awfully easy to be hard-boiled about everything in the daytime, but at night it is another thing.”
— The Sun Also Rises (1926) by Ernest Hemingway,

Sadly, most of the original content for this page went missing during the Great Spilled Coffee Incident of 2008. It featured, of course, some of the pithiest and most clever definitions of “hard-boiled” ever committed to the web by some of the best brains in the genre.

The search continues, but in the mean time, here’s the best example of hard-boiled writing I could find. If you can find a better one, let me know…

“Keep coming, I said, “and I’ll put you down”

“Try it.” He took another step, crouching a little. “I can still get you with slugs in me.”

“Not where I’ll put them.” I was wordy, trying to talk him into waiting till the others came up. I didn’t want to have to kill him. We could have done that from the taxi. “I’m no Annie Oakley, but if I can’t pop your kneecaps with two shots from this distance, you’re welcome to me. And if you think smashed kneecaps are a lot of fun, give it a whirl.”

“Hell with that,” he said and charged.

I shot his right knee.

He lurched toward me.

I shot his left knee.

He tumbled down.

“You would have it,” I complained.

He twisted around, and with his arms pushed himself into a sitting position facing me.

“I didn’t think you had sense enough to do it,” he said through his teeth.

— from “Fly Paper” by Dashiell Hammett,¬†featuring The Continental Op.


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