RARA-AVIS: Corporate Noir?

From: Jay Gertzman ( jgertzma@earthlink.net)
Date: 28 Mar 2005

Does anyone know of crime novels in which the machinations of corporate crime as opposed to "underworld" or "mafia" crime is the source of suffering and despair. I know that Chandler, Hammet, Westlake, McGivern, Goodis, Wolfert describe political and mob bosses who are too powerful to reach, or so much in control of a city that their confederates include editors, bankers, police chiefs, etc. But these are of human scale, who are flawed, and sometime hindered by anger, greed, lust, etc. Even Michael Corleone carries guilt at some level; even the devilish Noah Cross in _Chinatown_ is a human sized power monger obsessed with ultimate power, therefore incest.

But what about the impersonal, mechanistic force that the corporation represents, the kind that is flawless because inhuman and superhuman. It is reponsible for mega-death (pollution, cancer from cigarettes, deaths from unsafe autos, bought-and-paid-for politicans who prevent reform of the abuses caused by accounting, insurance, credit card, or pharmaceutical businesses)? Are there noir crime novels which depict the results of corporate power? I know non crime genre works do so, even _The Grapes of Wrath_ (1939). The foreclosing bank is described as an enemy no dispossed farmer can deal with, even by shooting its minions. _Fight Club_ comes close in describing the need of corporate employees to assert their humanity by pain, identity swapping, and acts of terrorism against the system and even innocent individuals whose lives have been homogenized and emasculated the sterility of office, mall, and "sanatized" entertainment. Perhaps this is a subject too abstract for the crime or mystery genre, but it seems to me to be a chief cause of man-made, criminal suffering world wide.

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This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : 28 Mar 2005 EST