From: "Nathan Cain" <IndieCrime@gmail.com>
> 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.
Woodrell refers to noir as the 'bastard child' of Greek tragedy, not as
Greek tragedy. You're sure to have come across the term 'working class
tragedy' as a description of noir (I think Lehane first coined the phrase).
I'd guess that's what Woodrell means here. Noir is tragedy without the
Aristotelian focus on characters who are perceived to have a long way to
> 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.
Again, I suspect that Woodrell's talking about content and characters rather
than the class of the author. While Goodis, for example, was certainly
middle class, his writing was so gutterbound that he even used 'gutter' in
one of his titles and there are several scenes where his characters are
literally lying in gutters (there's even one in The Wounded And The Slain
where the protagonist's stuck in a gutter and can't get out: gutterbound,
and then some). James Ross, who Woodrell also cites, wrote the first country
noir. Anderson wrote about convicts. Cain wrote about thieves. Etc. Woodrell
doesn't mention Woolrich.
> 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.
I dunno about that. Lot of spare time on your hands in prison. We had a big
discussion about this a while back. There'll be lots of names in the
archives if you want to look. Although, as I say, I doubt very much that's
what Woodrell meant.
This interview we're discussing is 7 years old, btw. To put this into
context, in 2002, noir was a dirty word in publishing in the US (and the
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