RARA-AVIS: Re: Psycho Noir

From: Charlie Williams ( cs_will@hotmail.com)
Date: 21 Mar 2006

--- In rara-avis-l@yahoogroups.com, "George Tuttle" <noirfiction@...> wrote:
> A follow up question to all:
> Do you find that psychotics are greatly maligned in crime fiction?
> That they get a bad rap? I mean that word psycho is so often
> associated the word "killer," do you think it is unfair? Do you find
> that there are a disproportionate number of psychotic criminals to
> psychotic victims in noir fiction?
> When I think of a psychotic victim, the first protagonist that comes
> to mind is Jim Thompson's Kid Collins in After Dark, My Sweet. His
> psychotic tendencies make him highly vulnerable, easy to exploit. I
> tend to see him more of a victim, than a criminal, but that might be
> the romantic in me.


I haven't read AFTER DARK in a while, but my memory of Kid Collins is that he is not very clever. There's a difference between stupid and crazy, as everyone knows. I guess he's crazy too, but I think his lack of intelligence makes him vulnerable as much as anything else. I dunno, maybe my memory of that novel is shaky. Isn't he prone to violent outbursts?

In noir fiction (and crime fiction in general) it is usually so much more fun to have a psycho character in the villain/antihero role, rather than victim. I guess I never really thought about it. Who are the victims in noir novels? Isn't the hero the victim? He's gonna wind up screwed in the end. Fate is the villain.


----- charliewilliams.net

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