RARA-AVIS: Re: Dark Harvest article

From: Richard Moore ( moorich@aol.com)
Date: 04 Jan 2007

I was a little bummed when I read miker's slam of Barry Hannah's article "Dark Harvest" in the latest issue of Oxford American because I had just shelled out the money to buy the issue. Oxford American is a fine magazine and I prize their issues focused on southern music, food, and various things literary.

It was heartening to read a few posts later that miker was prompted by the article to inquire about Charles Bukowski. It seems the piece did have some value for him.

The Hannah piece is a bit pretentious but the old boy has survived his decades as an alcholic and a career as a writer and he can strut a bit for all I care. I find it of interest that he is teaching a class in noir at Ole Miss and I noted several authors mentioned in the article that I hope to explore such as Ace Atkins. He indicates he is working on a noir piece of fiction himself in which he invokes his friend the writer Richard Hugo. I think it might be worth reading.

A final thought on the article: his recommendation of Charles Willeford did prompt a separate, stand-alone boost from the magazine of Willeford's fiction. That's really the main value of any such articles is the showcasing of writers who deserve another look.

As for Burkowski, miker, I can recommend NOTES OF A DIRTY OLD MAN
(1969) from his prose. I have read some of his fiction but don't have the books in front of me and the memories are a bit vague. Not a good sign. So I will stick to NOTES. For one who is not a huge poetry reader, I am inordinately fond of Burkowski's poetry. From the same year (1969), I recommend THE DAYS RUN LIKE WILD HORSES OVER THE HILLS as a sample of his poetry.

As for Burkowski in the cinema, the direct example is "Barfly." However, a movie that seems to me to draw from Burkowski is "Night at the Golden Eagle" (2002). I blundered on "Golden Eagle" late one night and stayed because I recognized singer Sam Moore (Sam & Dave) in the cast. At first I was repelled by the parade of loathsome characters sinking ever deeper into skid row degradation. Eventually I realized the film had to be a comedy as the two aging hoods (at least one of whom was played by a real life mobster)kept trying to sneak out the body of the dead hooker from their hotel room. It was a bit like Hitchcock's "The Trouble With Harry." As with Harry the hooker's body becomes a 'thing' of inconvenience, something to be disposed of. Unlike Hitchcocks's Harry the hooker's body is nude throughout and that makes the impersonal objectification all the more shocking. As it wallowed around the gutter, both shocking and funny, "Night at the Golden Eagle" reminded me of Burkowski.

Richard Moore

--- In rara-avis-l@yahoogroups.com, Michael Robison
<miker_zspider@...> wrote:
> I spent a few minutes reading Barry Hannah's article
> on noir in the southern literary magazine, Oxford
> something or other. I almost didn't finish it. The
> first four paragraphs were worthless. After that he
> decided to actually get down to the subject. He
> mentioned some great noir fiction classics, but he
> didn't shed any new light on the subject, or even
> frame it with any particular clarity. He spends a
> couple useless paragraphs describing several of what
> he considers unbelievable portrayals of murder in
> Hammett's Red Harvest. I do give him credit for
> mentioning Faulkner's Sanctuary.
> I read a short and unmemorable novel by Hannah here
> recently. This article was of the same caliber.
> miker
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