Re: RARA-AVIS: Cain and Hammett

Date: 03 Oct 2007

In a message dated 10/3/07 7:21:55 AM, writes:
> --- jacquesdebierue <> wrote:
> > What do you mean by "screwed"? That there is
> > something wrong in the
> > head with the character or that he ends up screwed?
> In the context of the conversation, it's dead, in
> prison or insane.
or worse
> > If it's the head
> > thing, I can think of plenty of noir novels where
> > the character simply
> > takes the wrong turn and is trapped. Jason Starr's
> > protagonist who
> > always smells like fish (I forget his name) is one
> > of those.
> His name is Mickey Prada and I'm working on an essay
> about Starr as we speak. Again, we're extrapolating
> from a simple statement from Jack and not a manifesto
> published in Semiotics. Frankly, I think defining
> Hendricks, Abbott and Starr as noir minimizes what
> they're actually up to. Ken Bruen plays at being noir
> as a fashion, which is different from Miami Purity's
> playing with the themes. One of the aspects of Starr's
> work (I'm into my third Starr book at the moment) that
> I really appreciate is that there's nothing retro
> about it. The whole concept of neo-noir is nothing but
> diddling with styles but I digress . . .
I don't share the sentiment that noir minimizes them. they're modern torchbearers. the fact that there's nothing retro in Jason's work, or Vicki's (I haven't read Megan Abbott yet), nothing stylistically self conscious about the prose or storytelling, and yet they are still the same sort of stories that James M. Cain would be writing if he were born in 1955 or 1975 or with a vagina keeps the genre from becoming quaint and obsolete
> >
> > So I have to register a protest against this
> > minimalist "screwed"
> > definition of noir. It doesn't always fit.
> >
> Of course it doesn't fit. How could it especially when
> you throw Kafka and Body Heat into the equation? And
> for my money, "Pretty Poison" is classic noir where
> "Body Heat" is a false homage. But that's just me.

I'd consider Body Heat an homage if it was more concerned with being dark and sinister in its style of presentation rather than naturalistic and of its time. instead, Body Heat is a perfect noir film, and opened the door for others to try and take noir out of the past and into lives that they can relate to

John Lau

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