Re: RARA-AVIS: serial killers...

From: a.n.smith (
Date: 02 Dec 2001

> one might say that is the nature of
> noir, but i'm inclined to disagree... i think that noir well
> done has a dark and dirty but somehow elegant and artful appeal.
> both those books were ugly and uninspiring.

Well, you're taking an objective and narrow view of "artful" then. To me, the ugliness and messiness of Killer Inside Me is what made it art. And what do you have to say about Cain, then, who stripped the prose to the bone in Postman... and Double Indemnity, but the books stand up after seventy years. You must be in the Chandler camp on the ideas of romanticism in the hard-boiled, whereas I think the very nature of what Hammett and Cain did was much more like the Modernist experiment ("direct treatment of the thing itself" and "a hard and dry" writing).

Elegant? If I read too much elegance in my noir, I don't believe it. No, worse, I don't trust it. I'm open to the highly tuned work of Chandler and Ross Macdonald, full of metaphor, but I prefer to see what happens when the language is broken or feels off-balance and imperfect. Like most noir plots, I think the prose should reflect the voice of the "average joe" when thrown into an extraordinary situation.

Neil Smith PWG

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