RARA-AVIS: Has anyone changed noir writing (lately)?

From: Kevin Burton Smith ( kvnsmith@thrillingdetective.com)
Date: 15 Mar 2007

I think Terrill nailed it.

Granted, I may not read as much "noir" fiction as some of you but I don't actually see much change in it, beyond a growing popularity that apparently has as much to do with nostalgia as anything.

HARD CASE CRIME's success is a case in point -- there are certainly many great books being publishing by them, but they're essentially throwbacks to those written fifty or sixty years ago (not that there's anything wrong with that). Fedoras are out, cell phones are in, but what has really changed?

Period pieces abound, and even new books set in contemporary times are being packaged like Fawcett Gold Medals. And it's not just HCC doing it.

Sure, they are new fresh voices, and some damn fine books, and even a few nifty new tricks being played out we've never seen before, but have there been any significant, sweeping changes in the genre lately?

About the only recent significant development in noir I can think of is that the usage of the word itself as a description of a certain type of book or film has become so devalued as to be meaningless.

Now any crime film with a fleeting shadow is called noir.

And the word is being used to sell everything from lingerie and sunglasses to coffee and dopey VANITY FAIR fashion spreads..


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