Re: RARA-AVIS: Postmodernism and literature

From: Michael Robison (
Date: 22 Mar 2007

Mark wrote,

I know you're a huge fan of McCarthy. How does his The Road fit into this? I'm not being sarcastic, really asking the question.

************ I would have to think about that, Mark, and I'm short on time because I gotta walk out the hotel door and head down to a conference in just a few. If you don't mind, though, I would mention his No Country for Old Men. You've got a classic noir going on and then when the protagonist has his big scene, it is totally off-screen. Somebody here noted that this tended to erase the noir and introduce the postmodern (I think they mentioned postmodern). I thought that was brilliant. It opened my eyes to at least one characteristic of noir, the glory factor for the protagonist. He might be a total sleaze, and he might go down hard, but he struggled like a son of bitch. When McCarthy deletes the glory scene, he introduces an element of postmodernism, which essentially takes away the glory and adds a dose of apathy. The protag's big exist wasn't even worth detailing.

I'd say that level of apathy is at least one element we see in new noir. In the one Jason Starr I've read
(could it be Hard Luck?), the boy protag occasionally gets angry or frustrated, but he doesn't really seem driven. It is a marked difference from a lot of noir.
 I would point to that as a possible touch of pomo in noir. Another example, more extreme perhaps, is Barry Hannah's Ray. Pomo fo show.

Gotta go! I'll think about The Road, but I saw a lot of passion in it, and it wasn't demeaned or derided. I'm sorta thinking that The Road isn't pomo.


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