Re: RARA-AVIS: Re: NOIR FICTION, by Paul Duncan

From: Michael Robison (
Date: 22 Sep 2006

JJS wrote:

This is interesting. Thanks. What particularly gets me thinking are those five thematic eras (depression, fear, paranoia, apathy, and amorality) nicely corresponding to their historical eras. Duncan published the book in 2000, you write, so "amorality" arbitrarily stops there. So are we still there? Or have we moved on to something else? I'd be curious to know what the great minds out there think.

***************** No great mind here, but I can offer an opinion.

As far as noir fiction goes, his thematic eras were mostly arbitrary. It's not that one can't find good examples of each within the era he chooses, but that those themes can be found in all the eras.

One could make a play in exactly the opposite direction. I remember no allusions to the Depression in Cain's Postman. I hear that McCoy purposely excised breadlines and other evidence of the Depression from They Don't Shoot Horses, Do They?

As far as amorality, or immorality, it has been a recurrent theme in noir since Cain penned The Postman.


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