RARA-AVIS: "prison lit": noir?

From: Jay Gertzman ( jgertzma@earthlink.net)
Date: 04 Apr 2006

A recent article in the Phila. Inquirer discussed books (prison lit, street lit, urban lit, or hip hop fiction) as a literary phenomenon that has brought several former inmates lucrative sales. Sometimes they self-publish and move on to mainstream publishers. The most successful sell between 20 and 50 thousand in paper. Often, sales from street vendors, in malls and out of car trunks supplement bookstore sales. Typical titles: Shafeeq, _Dangerously Insured_; Wahilda Clark, _Thugs and the Women Who Love Them_; Reginald Hall, _Memoir: Delaware Co. Prison;_ Vicki Stringer, _Let That Be the Reason_.

I wonder if anyone has read any of these and thinks they carry on noir traditions: hard boiled stories of people responding to averse social conditions; the way people of all social classes are in symbiotically predatory relationships; the psychotic state of mind developed by prison routine and hard man street behavior; the lack of real difference in motives between underworld and upperworld; the unbridgeable gulf between races and classes in 21st century America; the explosion of rage against being told that freedom of expression and privacy have to be curtailed because we have an "implacable enemy" who must be fought by young and poor people (not the president's and congress's own loved ones).

One clever plot -- _Dangerously Insured -_- concerns two women who set up an insurance policy for gangsters who are almost certain that they will die before too many years pass.

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This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : 04 Apr 2006 EDT