Re: "Grimly Existential" as Opposed to "Noir" (Was: Re: RARA-AVIS: Re: Noir Comic Book)

From: Brian Thornton (
Date: 10 Nov 2008

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    On Sun, Nov 9, 2008 at 12:59 PM, Gonzalo Baeza <> wrote:

    > It's grim and it also includes criminal elements, as I pointed out
    > before. They don't have to be mutually exclusive.

    They usually aren't. You yourself mentioned that the criminality involved was largely secondary though. Correct? Or did I read that wrong?

    As I understand it, a crime has to be a large element of the plot in order for it to be either "hard-boiled" or "noir." Otherwise it's just "grimly existential." You know, like a bad French film.

    As for McCoy's THEY SHOOT HORSES, DON'T THEY?, that's the "grimly existentialist" book that most people seem to confuse with "noir." For McCoy the crime wasn't that Robert shot Gloria, but the manner in which the desperation of the poor was being exploited by the marathon dance promoters
    (and by extension, by society).

    As for reviewers calling something "noir" and comparing it to the work of authors such as Goodis and Thompson, well, at least they didn't call it a
    "taut, noirish thriller," or "an action-packed thrill-ride with noir elements," and compare it to the work of Hammett and Chandler (two VERY different writers, as were Goodis and Thompson), so I suppose that's something.

    All the Best-


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