Re: RARA-AVIS: Noir is not for everybody

From: Kerry J. Schooley (
Date: 28 Sep 2005

At 05:04 AM 28/09/2005 -0700, you wrote:
>Guess it's time for me to pipe up and disagree with a
>recent idea that has come up about noir. The concept
>I disagree with is that noir implies we're all
>screwed. That is not noir. In noir, the protagonist
>is screwed. Big difference. A big and really
>significant difference.

A very comforting point of view, but I'm reasonably certain you're going to die too miker, and if you don't, then you're likely in for a big disappointment.

That's just my point of view, of course, but generally in fiction readers are meant to identify with the protagonist. If he/she is screwed, we should be feeling the same way at least as long as it takes to read the book. Otherwise, I'd suggest the book is a failure, at least for that particular reader.

If we remove universality from the definition of noir, what have we got left to separate this genre from other crime-writing? It reduces the genre to one of atmospherics: in other mysteries the murder takes place in a small-town vicarage during broad daylight, in noir it happens in rain-slicked back alleys at night. The inclusion of dark descriptive passages in a book is inadequate to define the genre. But maybe that's my ego at play.

I suspect though, that if you really believe only some are doomed while others can rise above their "true" natures, you'd find more satisfying reading in the self-help section of the bookstore.

Best, Kerry

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