Re: RARA-AVIS: Hjortsberg's _Falling Angel_

From: Doug Bassett (
Date: 09 May 2004

--- JIM DOHERTY <> wrote:
> Doug,
> Re your comment below:
> > I think the book is essentially a horror story,
> and
> > is
> > best appreciated in those terms. (The PI plot is
> > surface gloss). My main problem with the
> esteemable
> > Mr. Doherty's definition of "noir" is that it lets
> > in
> > a lot of horror stories like FALLING ANGEL.
> Since a lot of horror stories have crime story
> elements (the Edgar-nominated FALLING ANGEL being a
> good example; others include TV shows like FOREVER
> KNIGHT and X-FILES) and a lot of crime stories often
> employ horror story elements (remember the Contintal
> Op's punch-up with a ghost in THE DAIN CURSE), my
> definition's being inclusive seems to me to be an
> advantage rather than a an argument against it.

Hey, fair enough: for my own part, though, any definition that groups together SALEMS LOT and TAPPING THE SOURCE doesn't seem very useful to me.

I think any use of supernatural elements by definition rules a work out of the hardboiled or noir camps. I think the basic starting point for both is realism. FALLING ANGEL may well have been nominated for an Edgar (I think it was a mistake if it was), but the movie was considered straight horror, and properly so.

I think your criteria of a forboding atmosphere
(paraphrasing) is necessary, then, but not sufficient.

There are interesting cases of overlap -- I'm far less doctrinare about these sorts of things than I used to be, definitions can only encompass so much. (I remember FOREVER KNIGHT, it was a great schlocky show.) The most obvious one is Cornell Woolrich, who often seems to be more appreciated by sf/dark fantasy/horror writers like Barry Malzburg or Harlan Ellison than crime writers: I'm not a big fan of him myself, but he does seem to have more in common with Ray Bradbury than, say, David Goodis.


Just finished: Edward Anderson's THIEVES LIKE US, a very fine book.

===== Doug Bassett

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