RARA-AVIS: Re: Psycho Noir

From: George Tuttle ( noirfiction@whoever.com)
Date: 21 Mar 2006

I think you are right. I can't say the Kid Collins really crosses that line, but my recollection is shaky too, and I no longer have a copy.

In some stories, it is very clear. There is a "psychotic moment," a point in the story where psychosis exhibits itself in some piece of dialog or thought. At that point, he/she is longer one of us (not a fair statement - just an attempt, on my part, to characterize the reader's point of view.)

Yes, the hero is the victim. I always hope it won't end that way, but it always does. I've seen the movie Sunset Blvd, several times. It always starts the same way with Joe Gillis dead in the swimming pool, and I always hope it will end differently. It hasn't yet.

Thanks, Charlie. Take care. George the Librarian

--- In rara-avis-l@yahoogroups.com, "Charlie Williams" <cs_will@...> wrote:
> --- 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.
> George,
> 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.
> Charlie.
> -----
> charliewilliams.net

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