Re: RARA-AVIS: Skin River

From: Michael Robison (
Date: 06 Jan 2005

Glenn wrote:

I'm new to the boards so please bear with me.

<bunch snipped>

Would you say that this book is hardboiled or noir? Why or why not?

***************** Welcome to the group, Glenn. I haven't read the book you ask about, but I can relay to you a couple hardboiled/noir definitions that float around on rara-avis.

Jim Doherty's definitions:

hardboiled = tough and colloquial noir = dark and sinister

If that's too complex, Jack Bludis's definitions whittle it down even further:

hardboiled = tough noir = screwed

Personally, I like them both. Jim adds colloquial to the hardboiled definition because he sees it as a class- or street-oriented genre, so although James Bond and Sherlock Holmes may be tough as nails, their somewhat aristocratic airs keep them out of the hardboiled club.

Noir is more complex, I think. Some people on the list think it goes beyond just atmosphere, and must relate to the protagonist's state of mind, with fear and desperation being on the short list. Some see noir as an extension of the pessimistic determinism in the early writings of American naturalists such as Jack London and Stephen Crane, and that the noir protagonist is doomed from the beginning.

It's also fairly well accepted that the two genres are not mutually exclusive of one another, so a book can be both hardboiled and noir. In my experience, only rarely is noir divorced from hardboiled.


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This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : 06 Jan 2005 EST