Re: RARA-AVIS: Bouchercon article

From: Dave Zeltserman (
Date: 24 Sep 2005

No. You could argue that a book like Killer Inside Me is more tragedy than noir, since Lou Ford, while not necessarily born broken
(if I remember right its implied that sexual experiences at a young age and his father's resulting behavior on learning about it contributed to his state) was predestined to be the way he was. But on the other hand, he did have a choice - as difficult as it was, to battle his true nature. For me, noir has the choices the protagonist makes contributing to his being screwed - even if the odds are stacked well against him. Tragedy is something different, where the protagonist is caught up in the whims of fate. Anyway, that's what made Thompson's books so great - he was able to create characters where the odds were so stacked up against them that their bads choices they made seemed so natural for them.

--- In, Karin Montin <kmontin@s...> wrote:
> Dave, I don't quite get the difference between creating your own
fate by being born broken and being screwed by fate. Are you saying that being born a certain way is an intentional act?
> Karin
> At 04:15 24/09/05 +0000, Dave Z wrote:
> >To me noir is more a sense of doom than tragedy. More times than
> >the protagonist creates their own fate, either by being born
> >as in some of the great Jim Thompson novels (Killer Inside Me, A
> >Swell-Looking Babe, Pop. 1280, etc) or by crossing a moral line,
> >committing murder for a woman, money, just to see if you can get
> >away with it, etc., such as Double Indemnity, Postman Always
> >Twice, The name of the Game is Death. Great noir novels, such as
> >Arkadin and How Like a God are outside the realm of the working-
> >class. And then you've got Charles Willeford, who created some
> >brillian tnoir novels based on artists refusing to compromise
> >artistic vision. Yeah, there are some examples of people who are
> >screwed more by fate than their own actions, such as the film
> >Detour, but in my opinion the best examples (and most prevalent)
> >noir involve the protagonist's bad decisions, moral weaknesses,
> >simply broken psyches than the whims of fate. Tragedy is one
> >noir is something completely different.

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This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : 24 Sep 2005 EDT