through time is what interests me,’’ he says.
No other writer has conceived such a character or setting so strongly rooted in local feeling through so many books. During the past 25 years, Corris has given us perhaps our most persistent literary impression of Sydney, not always flattering.
It wasn’t a conscious thing at the beginning, but it is now,’’ he says.
Corris says he is writing Hardy No. 34. It comes a bit more slowly and perhaps with a bit more need to go back a chapter or two and make a nip and tuck to fit.’’ He gives the impression that, like Hardy, he just plods along with a certain modesty, a nosy guy who likes to move into other people’s lives, then move on so he won’t be intruding.
Ross Macdonald, the great Californian crime writer whose Lew Archer series influenced Corris, said that ‘‘ a private detective is just a kind of invented shadow of the novelist at work’’. It’s a quote that amuses Corris. ‘‘ Some events in Hardy’s life reflect those in mine, but filtered through the requirements of the genre,’’ he says. If anyone was crazy enough to try they’d find the connections: divorce, stopping smoking, jogging, alcohol concerns and eye problems.’’
These days a weary wisdom travels with hero and author. Hardy’s old Falcon has seen many kilometres in the long haul to disprove the one- time assumption of Australian publishers, writers and readers that the hard- boiled mystery field was credible only in American settings. Like his hero Cliff Hardy, Corris just keeps going, , as unimpressed and charmingly nonchalant as his hero. Corris has seen off the new wave and the postmodern, the granttaking dilettantes, the serial killer story and left the lesbian separatist detectives behind, exasperated by his laconic style.
Robert B. Parker, creator of the longrunning Spenser mysteries, said of his urbane Boston sleuth that he would never write a finale. His end will be coincidental with mine,’’ he said. I can see Cliff Hardy lifting a glass of red in agreement, his creator still in his chair, fingers on the keyboard.