RARA-AVIS: Re: Jean-Patrick Manchette (was: French HB/noir)

From: Etienne Borgers ( wbac1203@wanadoo.be)
Date: 19 Aug 2002


As I understood you read French, it's easier for me to give references.

Concerning Manchette, there was a special issue of Polar (hors s鲩e) devoted to the writer. Interesting of course but not definitive. As he did his film reviews for French comic magazines (Charlie, and others) that I read at the time, that's how I was familiar with this aspect of his production. For books reviews, it was through Polar that I knew them (in the old series and during the beginnings of the new series - new series that stopped last year only...no No 24 as far as I know), and for his views on lit it was also through specialized publications. His positions can be very manicheist at certain times, but he goes rarely wrong. He was the one for instance who detected and defended the qualities of Ellroy in France at the early stage of Ellroy's career. He was also a translator (from English into French - more than 60 books, including Ross Thomas). He wrote approx. 10 film scripts, and one TV series. He wrote also some juveniles, and other things outside crime/mystery. He stopped writing fiction (at his peak, in 1982-3) because he was sincerely convinced that this type of communication had great limitations, with the risk of repetition and lack of original matters being the worse
(in fiction in general and in art). He died in 1995.

City Lights (of San Francisco I guess?) chose Manchette's two best novels, LA POSITION DU TIREUR COUCHɠ(1982) the best HB/noir novel he wrote, but maybe the most difficult to approach. It was also his last one. TROIS HOMMES A ABATTRE, is the title of the film based on his novel : "Le petit bleu de la cOuest" (1976)- later re-published with the film title. As I live now in continental Europe since last year, I didn't see these translations yet.

"snapshot of society" Manchette and certainly Pouy could have spoken about a part of the polar genre as a snapshot of the modern life, society etc, as it's one of the characteristics of the HB/noir genre they both promoted. This expression was used by many, inclusive some publishers. One of the rather recent imprints was even Instantan鳠(=snapshots) by reference to this idea.

E.Borgers Hard-boiled Mysteries http://www.geocities.com/Athens/6384 Polar Noir http://www.geocities.com/polarnoir

At 08:15 19-08-02 EDT, you wrote:
><< Helena >>
>I think it was an interview with Pouy that I saw the reference to Manchette
>and the origin of the term "polar." Though it might have been that he was
>saying that Manchette gave the term added meaning by thinking of his fiction
>as a "snapshot of society." By the way, Helena's Les Flics... and Le Bon
>have been, or will soon be, reprinted in France, while his Defense du roman
>noir also appears in Polar 23. And speaking of Manchette, have you come
>across the City Lights translations of, presumably, La position du tireur
>couch頡nd Trois hommes ᠡbattre. One hopes they will sell well enough for
>City Lights to publish more such work, by Manchette and others, but sort of
>doubt it. I always liked Manchette's film and literary reviews, and just
>ordered Chroniques and Les yeux du momie published by Rivage. Any comments
>either of these? Don't know why I haven't come across them before,
>particularly since I seem to spend an inordinate amount of time in French
>Woody Haut

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