RARA-AVIS: Re: Humor and irony in noir

From: crimeflix ( jmks100@aol.com)
Date: 22 Oct 2004

Re what Karin wrote: I think I may have been the panelist at Bouchercon who said this (if not; someone made the same point I did!)...But I was talking about novels where anti-heroes are the protagonists (the panel was called "Following Ripley") so I don't think this really applies to Mankell's detective fiction. In other words, in a Mankell novel, the detective is a good guy, on the right side of the law, so there is no real need for personal redemption...the protagnist is likable because he's moral and the redemption comes when the murder is solved. In the anti-hero novel, an author needs to find other ways of engaging the reader and humor is one of them. But I don't think noir novels need to have humor. I don't think Goodis's novels are particularly funny, but Willeford's are very funny, and Thompson's are wickedly funny. But all of these writers grip me. Ken Bruen uses his voice to engage the reader, as does Charlie Williams and Al Guthrie. I think you can also engage the reader with the quality of the writing or with high tech suspense (Barry Eisler) or eeriness (Highsmith)...In this way, noir novels are unlike detective novels where the reader is automatically engaged with the reader. In a noir novel, the author has to work harder to get the reader on board....But humor is always subjective. I'm sure there are people out there who don't think Thompson, or Leonard, or Higgins, or even Willeford are funny at all, but may think Mankell is funny... J http://www.jasonstarr.com

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This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : 22 Oct 2004 EDT