RARA-AVIS: Everything's Noir?

From: Brian Thornton ( tieresias@worldnet.att.net)
Date: 19 May 2007

OK so back in the 90s, a friend of mine was the bassist and lead singer for an indie band. They never went anywhere (go figure), but they had this great song that my pal wrote called "Everyone's Alternative," an acerbic look at the "alternative rock" movement, and how it seemed that everyone and their dog in the pop music business was adopting the monicker "alternative" to describe their music (especially groups that had been categorized as glam rock hair bands just a few years before), apparently largely because of "alternative" music being the marketing flavor of the moment .

I can't help but wonder whether that isn't the case with noir fiction right now.

After all, "noir" is hot.

I sub to another list that deals strictly with historical mysteries (another mystery sub-genre that is growing by leaps and bounds), heavily populated by authors, and I have been surprised lately at the use of the term "noir" to describe the fiction that authors are plugging there. I've heard phrases like "Roman noir" (double entre fully intended) and "check out my new Medieval noir coming next year from St.Martin's..."

Interestingly enough (and running against overwhelming type with regard to the canon of noir fiction over the past 80-plus years), almost all of the authors I've heard using these terms with regard to "historical" noir are women.

What do you folks think about this? Is Noir fiction an anywhere, anytime (recently conquered Roman Britain, for example, where the "mean streets" would be very, very muddy) subgenre?

All the Best-


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