Re: RARA-AVIS: prophets of noir

Bill Hagen (
Wed, 15 Sep 1999 22:32:19 -0500 (CDT)

Neil, another, O'Connor fan says ,

" And "Good Man Is Hard To Find" continues to be my favorite short story. You've got the dark humor, the gangsters, the guns, the South--works for me.

"I can't help but feel she was "playing" with noir in that story, though. I mean, hardboiled gangsters just show up out of nowhere. What are the odds? A more pure portrayal of crime from her would be "Good Country People." What a con man we've got in that one."

They're not quite "gangsters"; they're just homocidal good ole boys, far as I can figure. In fact, the Misfit, their leader, had a church upbringing and through him, O'Connor daringly provides a kind of theological rationale for their killing spree--to wit, if there's no miracle of Jesus to be witnessed by humans now living, then why should we believe, and if we can't believe, then there's only meanness left to do, which ain't fun either. Now that's a vision for you. (Like Hobbes on life in a state of nature: nasty, brutish and short.)

...which leads to a possible thread-starter. Catholics and Calvinists or artists from those backgrounds (O'Connor, Greene, Thompson, Scorcese), often create very believeable evil characters, it seems to me. The sense of eternal damnation or depravity deepens and supports the gloom. So which other noir or HB writers seem to have this extra sense of cosmic darkness or damnation that might be called "religious" (even if inverted)? Who are the real prophets of noir or HB? What are the best lines for the book of Noir Scripture we are collectively putting together?

Bill Hagen

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