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

From: Steve Novak ( Cinefrog@comcast.net)
Date: 16 Mar 2007

Thank you so much Kerry for those notes that both acknowledge the
Œtraditionalism¹ in Rara-Avians, and also make room for the innovations brought on by extremely important people like Paul Auster when one touches upon the ŒnoirŒ concept within the last 20 years in the US...

From the start this discussion about new trends in noir innovation/tors, prompted me to read anew the superb analysis of JF G鲡ult of Manchette
(Encrage 2000), the Œinnovator-par-excellence¹ of the polar-noir in France in 70/80¹s and thus the creator (or maybe it was the press who gave him that label) of the Œn鯭polar¹/¹n鯭noir¹ movement, in which critics have included many other writers from France to Uk to Germany and Spain since... I wanted very much to give here the titles of some of the chapters and sub-divisions of this very analysis of Manchette, because I believe it gives tools to think about what a radical shift, an Œinnovative¹ shift could be or is for such a movement/genre as the noir one...I think that much too often, innovation is confused with the characteristics of a plot line, of a character, of a certain style in a book or short story...but Œinnovation¹,
Œrenewal¹ of a genre is a much wider scope involving many more elements and people...Here are the elements touched upon by JF G鲡ult when he analysed Manchette¹s books in the context of Manchette as the crime writer responsible for a Œinnovation/revolution¹ in the crime writng genre. All these paragraph titles refer to specific elements in Manchette books that are part of a Œdifferent¹ approach to polar/noir writing, from the preceeding decades...

1)A radical social critique
    - decadence of intellectuals and bourgoisie
    - a police force very much out of touch and utterly stupid and brutal
    - corruption within the federal state apparatus at all levels
    - disinformation: otherwise known as dumbing down and corruption of all information by communication/news entities
    - the utter ridicule of the present left (i.e.liberals)
    - madness as the ultimate refuge

2)Wring the neck of literature: Manchette follows and subverts at the same time the rules of polar, of novel writng, of crime story writing, the themes, the styles...
     - death of love
    - immorality and sexual indifference
    - obessions and vulgarity
    - sexual deviances
    - sexual failures

3) Noirer than noir:
    - generalised vulgarity, racism and stupidity
    - omnipresent violence

4) Break with narrative patterns:
    - break with linear time: often start from the end...etc...
    - weird or absurd endings

5) Break with the place, position, of the narrator: (loss of the fabricated romanesque illusion)
    - intentional impresisions
    - narrator intervenes inawkward ways in the text and thus bungles the flow
    - narrator exposes narrative structures: a process directly linked to film Œstraight cuts¹ between two paralell actions (see tarantino and all I guess-my comment)
    - direct references to stereotypes of literature

6) Refute and discredit of stylistic & rhetorical features
    - chopping up of sentences
    - repetitions and enumerations
    - use and abuse of parenthesis
    - parody in names and patronyms

7) The art of surprise and permanent creation
     - hyperrealism
     - behaviorism

8) Humour and parody
    - ridicule
    - derision, self mockery
    - play on words

...anyway...all these elements contituted for JF G鲡ult a new aesthetics at some point in time and in listing all these (which are my own translation from the French). My only purpose is to welcome here on Rara any such approach to the innovators in the US noir crime story...at whatever physical and geographical time this happened...now or 15 years ago...in other words, besides individual writers, besides some books of importance...where are we within the darkness of US noir...the very darkness that Manchette reveired from the start...remember her was first a translator of many US writers...and that¹s where he got the bug....

Bienvenue and many Thanks for any new input...

Steve Novak Cinefrog@comcast.net

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