RE: RARA-AVIS: DARK RIDE, Kent Harrington

From: Robison Michael R CNIN (
Date: 23 Jun 2003

Mario Taboada wrote:

About Harrington: in my opinion, he tells ultranoir stories but he has his own voice -- and is a far better writer than Thompson and Goodis. I would say he's about as good as Cain and Willeford. Whether he can match the latter's inimitable personality is a different matter. Willefordiana should probably be considered as a genre, all by itself, just like Faulkneriana, Calviniana or Borgiana.

************ Another writer that I would compare to Harrington is Charles Williams. Paul Duncan notes in his NOIR FICTION that the tough guy detectives that are in control aren't even close to being noir. Duncan says that a noir protagonist isn't just teetering on the edge of the abyss; he's powerless, out of control, and swimming in it. Your comment about Hammett being too tough to be called noir parallels this.

The Charles Williams I've read (HOT SPOT and RIVER GIRL) both involve a strong, tough guy who appears to have the ability to manipulate his environment, but yet fails miserably in his attempt, proving himself to be as powerless as some whimpering Woolrich character. Williams and Harrington both are superb at making the reader feel the tension and desperation, and they both understand and appreciate irony.

I recall you mentioned neo-noir or some such term in your review of Dave Zeltserman's book. Would you call Harrington neo-noir? Can you enlighten me a bit about how you differen- tiate between noir and neo-noir, besides the publish date? I think you mentioned an irony of style before, but could you be more specific? I understand that an irony of style involves taking a basic style and tweaking it in an unusual manner, thus invoking irony.


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