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

From: Gonzalo Baeza (gbaeza@gmail.com)
Date: 10 Nov 2008

  • Next message: Nathan Cain: "RARA-AVIS: Gas City"

    I tend to agree with Jacques' definition of noir rather than yours, which strikes me as obsessive nitpicking. I did say criminality was secondary. What I didn't say is that it was absent from the book. In many of Scott Wolven's stories crime is a secondary element and yet I think he's as noir as they come. His collection of short stories, Controlled Burn, is probably the best one I've read so far this year. Likewise, the best noir novel I've read this year is Crazy Streak by John Gilmore and criminality is also secondary to its story.

    I guess to me noir is more of a sensibility, a style, or an outlook instead of a mere collection of plot ingredients that must go into a given title so it can be stocked in the correct bookshelf.



    --- In rara-avis-l@yahoogroups.com, "Brian Thornton"
    <bthorntonwriter@...> wrote:
    > On Sun, Nov 9, 2008 at 12:59 PM, Gonzalo Baeza <gbaeza@...> 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
    > 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
    > for it to be either "hard-boiled" or "noir." Otherwise it's just
    > 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
    > (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-
    > Brian
    > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]

    This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : 10 Nov 2008 EST