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

From: Nathan Cain (
Date: 01 Feb 2009

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    Wasn't Greek tragedy primarily about kings and other nobles? Oedipus. Antigone. Electra. None of them are lower class figures. That's why I'm puzzled by Woodrell's assertion that "noir" is some sort of underclass thing. Also, I'm not really aware of that many noir novels written by actual members of the underclass. James Cain: New York newspaperman. Goodis: College educated ad man. Cornell Woolrich: Attended Columbia, didn't graduate. Died and left the university
    $850,000. So, he may have lived in a seedy Harlem hotel for most of his adult life, but obviously that was by choice.

    Let's wonder off the reservation a little. William S. Burroughs: Attended Harvard. His grandfather invented the adding machine, and he was also related to Ivy Lee, Hitler's PR man in the States. So the world's most famous drug addict is from the Ivy League. Gutterbound by choice, if you will.

    Woodrell doesn't seem to realize that actual members of the underclass don't spend a lot of time writing books because they're too busy trying to survive. Unless he can name some actual "gutterbound proseteers" I'm going to call shenanigans on this.

    On Fri, Jan 30, 2009 at 3:33 PM, Michael S. Chong <> wrote:
    > "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 unfiltered 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]

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