Re: RARA-AVIS: Daniel Woodrell on "Noir"

From: davezeltserman (
Date: 31 Jan 2009

  • Next message: davezeltserman: "Re: RARA-AVIS: Daniel Woodrell on "Noir""

    Well, I do agree with him that there's a lot being called noir these days that seems more fashion than true noir. NY houses mostly don't have the guts to publish anything labeled "crime" that's too dark or bleak or with too unlikeable protagonists, yet they want to call all their noir-lite "noir" (a few true noir books do escape every once in a while). I could give you two examples of my own with editors at NY houses calling me claiming they loved Small Crimes, yet blanching at a
    (far less dark) books of mine claiming it was too dark and they wouldn't be able to get it through their houses, then asking if could write something more mainstream. Did I already say gutless?

    I don't get Woodrell's claim about noir being about the underclass. Plenty of great noir novels featuring middle to uppleclass. Lou Ford, for example, in Thomnpson's Great Killer Inside Me, was decidely middleclass (as was the upbringing of Dusty Rhodes in Swell-Looking Babe), Cornell Woolwich's Fright, Rex Stout's How Like a God, Seymour Shubin's Anyone's My Name, the recent excellent Russell Hill's Robbie's Wife, etc.


    --- In, Brian Thornton
    <bthorntonwriter@...> wrote:
    > Thank you, O Sage, O Woodrell, for finally shining the beacon of
    > upon we poor, benighted masses.
    > Authors defining "noir" is sort of like porn actors defining money
    > Either you do it, or you don't.
    > Sheesh.
    > Brian
    > On Fri, Jan 30, 2009 at 12:33 PM, Michael S. Chong
    > > "I just brought noir back to town, man. Both sides of that story do
    > > exist, the unbelievably generous and kind smalltown stuff happens
    two doors
    > > down from the shotgun shack and the woman who sells her twelve
    year old
    > > daughter for ten bucks a throw. I focused on the noir. Not to start a
    > > fracas, but hardly anything in books or films that others call
    noir would
    > > pass muster as noir by my indices----a saxophone, a blonde and an
    > > cigarette do not make a thing noir. Pure noir is a direct bastard
    child of
    > > Greek Tragedy, a bastard child that was raised by the bunch that
    would have
    > > it, that being gutterbound underbelly proseteers and their
    disciples. Such
    > > novels are among the few places to encounter the POV of the underclass
    > > expressed as if to other underclass folk-that is to say as
    truthfully as can
    > > be. I am as proud to be considered related to them (I mean,
    Thompson, Cain,
    > > Edward Anderson, Charles Williams, Kromer, James Ross, LeSieur,
    Goodis and
    > > the
    > > rest) as I am to any of the sanctified names."
    > >
    > > From an interview posted at
    > >
    > >
    > > Michael
    > >
    > > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    > >
    > >
    > >
    > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]

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