Re: RARA-AVIS: Re: Noir, etc

From: Al Guthrie (
Date: 17 Feb 2003

----- Original Message ----- From: "Dave" <>

> Frank "Dolly" Dillon from Thompson's 'Hell of a Woman' fits the
> "screwed" definition, as does "Kid" Collins from 'After Dark, My Sweet'
> and to some degree Carl Bigelow from 'Savage Night'.

Maybe, but psycho heavyweights Lou Ford and Nick Corey are a step beyond
"screwed" and, for a definition to work, it can't have exceptions.

> To me, literary
> noir, instead of the protagonist being "screwed" is instead "doomed".

I prefer that. "Screwed" suggests there's a way out, whereas "doomed" bears the genuine noir stamp of fatalism.

> The doomed aspect can be physical or psychic.

But without psychic doom, there isn't any doom at all. Doom originates in the mind. It's an attitude, a way of looking at things, a noir pessimism. It may manifest itself in the physical world, in the form of, say, a stalker, for example, but the only relevant "noir" aspect in fiction is the response - does the character carry on as normal (not noir) or does he panic at the lack of police protection and assume he's going to die (noir - real hardcore if there isn't a stalker at all)?

> And just to confuse things even more, has anyone here looked at "A
> Century of Noir" edited by Mickey Spillane and Max Collins? I picked it
> up recently to plow through during a long flight, and at most 10 of the
> 32 stories were what I'd even remotely consider noir.

Most people seem happy to think of noir fiction as simply meaning fiction with a dark content. Some of us, though, are doomed to question, define and redefine. Our fate is sealed. There is no escape. One thing's for sure: they're out to get us with their sloppy word usage.


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This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : 17 Feb 2003 EST