RARA-AVIS: Definitions

From: Jack Bludis ( buildsnburns@yahoo.com)
Date: 08 Jul 2007

My compliments to Jim Doherty for a very comprehensive response to my Noir=Screwed and Hard-boiled=Tough.

I suppose my point is that no matter how succinctly we define the terms, there are parameters we have to meet--Jim expanded and it makes sense. I don't think either Jim's
"Dark and Sinister" or my "Screwed" is a complete definition, any more than Jim's adding "and Colloquial" to Tough, makes the definition of hard-boiled and more accurate.

By my narrow definition of noir, not many novels qualify. By Jim's too many qualify.

My definition of Hard-boiled as just tough is perhaps too broad, since a novel about a bunch of oil-well workers or lumberjacks, with no crime involved, would qualify. But I also don't think "colloquial" clarifies the definition much.

I agree with someone else here that one of the few noir writers today is Jason Starr, but I would also add Domenic Stansberry.

What it comes down to in the definition, I believe, is that
"our thing" cannot be defined. We each see it as we see it. We like what we like.

I like "dark and tough." I don't like splatter-punk, which I find a lot of out there. One thing that bothers me about the newer
"noir" is that most don't have plots. They just have a series events that eventually ends to no particular conclusion, other than, perhaps: wow that was violent, and there were some good laughs all the way. Jason Starr is the definite exception. His start someplace and go someplace darker. Someone someplace once said that noir starts off terrible and gets worse. Jason qualifies there too.

What I love about this list is the education that I get from reading it. Most of the contributors know their stuff. Jim Doherty gets better and better, and finally, he's trying to laugh at his dogmatic approach.

No problem. I love reading what people have to say, even when I don't contribute; although I'm not a lurker in the truest sense.

Finally, I think I can say that we are as unable to defined hard-boiled and noir as the Supreme Court was unable to define pornography a few decades ago. We think we know Hard-boiled and Noir when we see it, but we're never going to agree totally on every piece of work--or like every piece of work.

Jack Bludis

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