Re: RARA-AVIS: RE : Lolita and noir

From: Richard Moore (
Date: 01 Feb 2007

We are in a definitional zone here that cannot be resolved. Humor is wonderfully in the eye of the beholder. Some of Erskine Caldwell is complete burlesque. Some, such as TOBACCO ROAD, has elements of both--although what you take away depends on what you personally bring to such a novel. Some (my aging memory says TROUBLE IN JULY) are serious throughout.

To my personal sense of what is Noir and what is not, the more the humor, the more I would be likely to exclude it. This doesn't mean that I would not enjoy the buffonery of some novels by Erskine Caldwell or John Faulkner. I just wouldn't call them Noir. I may be advantaged or disadvantaged by growing up in rural Georgia and knowing people very like the characters. "Noir" to me continues to carry with it the "black" of the definition and humor, even black humor, erodes and removes that black edge.

But I readily agree that I am drawing (as we all do) black boxes and assigning definitions.

Richard Moore

--- In, Michael Robison
<miker_zspider@...> wrote:
> Richard Moore wrote:
> Perhaps my problem is that I have trouble labeling a
> funny novel Noir. As I recall it, LOLITA is a very
> funny novel.
> **************
> Although there were humorous parts in Lolita, I
> wouldn't call it a funny novel. Nevertheless, humor
> is an important element of many noir novels. Tobacco
> Road might be har-dee-har in more than one place, but
> below the humor is a wicked undercurrent of
> degradation and hopelessness.
> miker
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