RARA-AVIS: Types of noir (was Re: Pop. 1280)

From: Jacques Debierue ( matrxtech@yahoo.com)
Date: 28 Jul 2007

--- In rara-avis-l@yahoogroups.com, "Dave Zeltserman" <dz@...> wrote:

> Mike, your inclusion of Double Indemnity is an interesting one.
> Walter Huff's motivation for the murder and his subsequent downfall
> is more out of traditional noir--there's nothing really psychotic
> about his outlook or rationalizations, but more that crossed that
> moral line and is doomed. However, Phyliss definitely fits under the
> psycho noir definitions. Maybe that's why I liked Double Indemnity so
> much--it's a strong mix of both. Another good Willeford example of
> psycho noir--"The Woman Chaser".

The first psycho noir novel I know of is _The Right Red Hand_ by Joel Townsley Rogers. But the genre did exist long before, in the fantasy and sci-fi pulps (the work of Sturgeon, Wandrei, etc.). Those pulpsters were fond of the "lunatic (maybe) on the loose" topic... I don't think a discussion of psycho noir is possible starting from the Hammett et al. tradition of hardboiled writing. I don't think Thompson and Willeford, for example, come from that tradition, and Woolrich deviated so much from it that maybe he didn't really start from it. The Woolrich short stories, as well as some by Fredric Brown, indicate a very different sensibility, a fantastic bent. Both of them were capable of writing straight mysteries and hardboiled characters, of course, but they're not Hammettian at all.



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