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

From: Brian Thornton (
Date: 04 Feb 2009

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    Oh. This. Is. Rich.

    ("Rich" and "Shado", get it? "Rich Shadow"? What a *perfect* name for someone who is contributing to a "noir" fiction discussion list!)

    Let me just respond below...

    On Wed, Feb 4, 2009 at 10:01 AM, richshado <> wrote:

    > A friend of mine had told me about the discussion going on here. In
    > the past, I had found myself at the archive site but posts such as the
    > one excerpted below have left a film on my monitor screen.

    Imagine what sort of residue this one must have left on your server, then.

    > --- In <>, Brian
    > Thornton
    > <bthorntonwriter@...> wrote:
    > > Wow! Grad school comes in handy when troweling out overwrought
    > metaphors
    > > such as those cited above!
    > >
    > > "Pure noir." "Bastard child."
    > >
    > Mr. Thornton, who is kind enough to let us know his profession in his
    > email handle, can talk the talk but I was wondering if he could walk
    > the walk. I found his short story here:

    Aaaaaaand Mr. Shado, who offers us not one little shred of evidence (no pun intended) as to who he is or what he does (except for the Canadian email address) apparently isn't capable of doing either. But I digress! Let's move on.

    First, I'd like to thank "Rich Shado" for his valiant effort to make me featured author of the month. But Rich, February's supposed to be dedicated to David Goodis (a far more accomplished author than I shall *ever* be). I can understand where you might have missed that in your archive diving.

    And hey, Rich, full disclosure, that was the second short story I ever wrote. I've got much more recent examples I'd be happy to let you
    "critique" for the group, if you're interested. Just ask.:)

    > "Hatchet-faced"? That has always been an interesting one. I've seen
    > hatchets and my share of faces but "hatchet-faced"? Does that mean a
    > thin, sharp, pointy face? Overwrought? He used the adjective first,
    > not I.

    Gosh, I'd completely forgotten about this story until you mentioned it. Would you believe that they paid me ten bucks for it? I wrote it based on the actual El Paso experience of the beloved Ms. Donna Moore.

    You're right, though, "hatchet-faced" *is* pretty bad, isn't it? I'm even more embarassed that I used it in the following sentence:

    "Hammett even describes Sam Spade as looking like Satan, his face a stack of sharp V's that conjures the image of a hatchet-faced man built of cold steel."

    Oops, my mistake. It was Robert Crais who wrote that sentence, not me. I wonder whether he graduated from Iowa Writers, and if so, does this mean they'd ask for his sheepskin back?

    Then, of course, there's THIS gem:

    "another man sat at the corner of the desk in a blue leather chair, a cold-eyed hatchet-faced man, as lean as a rake and as hard as the manager of a loan office."

    Oops. Not me either. That's from Raymond Chandler's THE BIG SLEEP. My understanding is that he attended Dulwich College. I'm positive that they would have wanted their sheepskin back (at least at the time!).

    That said, I agree that it wasn't a very good story. If it's any consolation to you, I got paid accordingly. And I appreciate you taking the time to slog through it.

    Tell you what: email me offlist with your snail mail address, and I'll be glad to send you the ten bucks I made for publishing it. The good news? What with the Canadian dollar's slide being even steeper than USD, you'll actually be making money on the deal!

    > (Sorry, couldn't resist. It just seems that so many "literary
    writers" seem
    > to assume that the rest of us have never read a book without
    pictures, and
    > then the name dropping begins. Ugh.)

    >Name dropping? Check out Mr. Thornton's page at something called

    HAHAHAHAHA! Oh mannnnn thanks for that one! I'd completely forgotten about Crimespace too (and unfortunately, it seems everyone else has as well). And where was I name-dropping? Where they have you mention authors you like? It's been so long since I've logged in there, I forget how it's laid out.

    >The way I figure it, the page is some type of promotional device.

    Uh... no.

    >You tell me.

    Just did.

    >Mr. Thornton provides a slide show on his profile which pictures him with
    his considerable arm wrapped around various authors.

    Thanks for the compliment. Would you believe that all it took to get these
    "guns" was a series of 12 ounce curls?

    >Some of those in his clutches seem quite uncomfortable.

    It's called "getting stuck with the tab."

    >But that may just be me reading into it.

    Sure seems like it, Swifty.

    >Sure is easy to criticize, ain't it?

    Hee yeah. Fun, too.

    Of course, if you're really interested in critiquing my stuff, you can get it through Amazon or B&N or any other bookstore. It's mostly non-fiction though, and they paid me a hell of a lot more than ten bucks for it.

    Let me know if you'd like to critique my Facebook page next. Now THAT really IS high art.

    (Hey, it makes as much sense as critiquing someone's CRIMESPACE page)

    All the Best-

    Brian Thornton

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