Re: RARA-AVIS: Who changed the noir writing ?

From: Dave Zeltserman (
Date: 02 Mar 2007

> Mark wrote:
> Looking forward to his next -- isn't it imminent Dave?

Thanks, Mark. I have a crime thriller titled Bad Thoughts that's out in July, and Serpent's Tail should also be publishing a very dark noir novel of mine titled Small Crimes later this year but I don't have a publishing date yet.

These days the industry seems to be lumping almost every crime fiction novel into the thriller category, and calling a lot of the darker, more violent and urban versions of this noir. A lot of these books, and a lot of the authors mentioned in this discussion trail, I don't think of as noir. But what I see as the biggest influence in recent crime fiction is Quentin Tarantino. I'm seeing a lot of his tone, pacing, hipness, and ultra-stylized violence finding their way into books like Huston's Caught Stealing, and many others. And Guy Richie's Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels has also had an obvious influence on some of the crime fiction I'm seeing come out of the UK.

As far as who has changed noir writing the most--the answer's the big publishers. What they've done is broaden the noir genre to include anything dark, violent and gritty, but at the same time mostly eliminated true noir--Jim Thompson and James M. Cain would have a hell of a time today getting any large publishing house to buy their classic noir books like Double Indemnity, Killer Inside Me, Savage Night, Hell of a Woman, etc. The industry forcing this softening of noir has had a bigger impact than anything else. Most of what we consider as doomed classic noir that's been published over the last 10 years has come from independant publishers, like Hardcase, Serpent's Tail and No Exit Press.

As far as which writers have taken noir into new directions--James Sallis and Vicki Hendricks have brought a more literary quality to noir, and Vicki has also added a degree of raw sexuality that I don't think anyone else had done before (at least in the noir context). I also believe Vicki's the first to have a female noir protagonist as broken and psychotic as any of the male protagonists that Jim Thompson, James M. Cain, Dan Marlowe, Charles Willefored gave us.

As far as Ken Bruen goes, I think he's influencing all writers, not just crime. The guy is an original. At times his writing takes on a poetic, almost free-form quality that's really beautiful to behold.

--Dave Z.

This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : 02 Mar 2007 EST