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

From: Patrick King (
Date: 29 Mar 2007

Thanks for your comments, Brian. It seems to me, however, in the very best of these stories the
"villians" are so complex as to make the reader actually identify with them...and they're almost always the protagonists. Note: The Postman Always Rings Twice, Double Indemnity, The Killer Inside Me, The Grifters, Recoil. Also Mitchum's character Jeff in the movie, Out of the Past. I could go on. These protagonists, while some are absolutely evil, and all do the "wrong" thing, leave the reader considering the factors that drove them to these poor choices. Shutter Island takes the reader in a similar direction. Here, though, the psychotic break is so complete that the protagonist really does not know the difference between reality and wishful fantasy. The Killer Inside Me's protagonist is a psychotic, but his psychosis tells him that the rules in the real world are there just for show; that people like him do not have to follow them, in fact are suckers if they do follow them. Murderer Dennis Rader is this type of psychotic. Such psychosis is much more comprehensible than the total break described in Shutter Island. Unfortunately, this total break is becoming more common in crime and psychology. Example, murderer Andrea Yates. I think it was well worth Lehane's effort to explore this kind of problem, and I, personally, thought he did it very successfully.

Patrick King
--- Brian Thornton <> wrote:

> Patrick-
> With all due respect, the POV character is still the
> antagonist of the piece: the reason for the story.
> By definition, the "villain" is the straw that stirs
> the drink in these sorts of stories. And unreliable
> narrators are considered a no-no by many because
> it's possible for a lazier writer than a Lehane to
> cheat by using this mechanism.
> As for Lehane being compared to Dan Brown on this
> list, I don't see that. I can't understand how
> pointing out (in response to complaints that he is
> "underappreciated") that he is one of the most
> widely read, most lauded, best remunerated authors
> in the business today, and that many authors would
> love to be so "underappreciated" is calling him a
> "hyped mediocrity."
> And he's certainly no Dan Brown.
> Lehane is good, and he's to be commended for not
> playing it either safely or comfortably, and for his
> willingness to take chances. BUT when you take
> chances, and essay something "new" or "experimental"
> it doesn't always work, and when it doesn't work,
> people are both entitled and obligated to point that
> out when discussing one's books, rather than
> treating it as a literary case of the Emperor's New
> Clothes.
> Rara Avis is usually a pretty fair place. If
> anything, the folks here tend to cut many authors of
> lesser ability and focus than Lehane (like Mickey
> Spillane, who I consider unreadable) too *generous*
> of a break.
> All the Best-
> Brian
> [Non-text portions of this message have been
> removed]

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