RE: RARA-AVIS: Noir-noir (was: "bar noir")

From: Mark Sullivan (
Date: 20 Jul 2009

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    Kevin wrote:
    "When we stopped getting drawn into the protagonists' plights and realized only a falling beam separated them from us and started putting ourselves above these characters, laughing at how much they were being hurt and fucked." Are we back to that again? Have you really become the old fart you try to inoculate yourself against in your opening? Boo hoo, nothing is as good as the old days? Boo hoo, the Beatles are gone. Boo hoo, there are no more James M Cains. Bullshit. My problems with your recycled set of global dismissals: First of all, you are misrepresenting older noir. There was a lot of crap there, and there was a lot of sadistic stuff there, too, even sadistic stuff we were supposed to laugh/cheer at: "It was easy!" Just add cackle. And Fred just gave a nice little list of racist, misogynistic and homophobic snippets from classic noir. As we grow older, many of us, apparently you, have the tendency to cling onto, remember and reread the best of the old and forget the rest, reduce that best to the norm, not the cream. You depict current noir as all one thing. Even if you disliked one recent book you've read, I still haven't seen you give any evidence it represents all of recent noir. Even if you can find other books that add laughs to their violence, and I agree they are out there, it still doesn't mean they represent all of recent noir, even all of a single author's output. For example (you remember those, right, examples to support your points? any reader of crime fiction should know evidence is needed to convict), Bruen can go over the top to make you laugh, or he can go over the top to make you cringe, sometimes both at once. And even when there is humor, it does not mean there is no connection to the human condition. Lots of extreme violence, even violence as black humor meant to provoke laughter, in Huston's Caught Stealing, but the reader still feels for Hank Thompson and his plight. You are ignoring all of the current noir that does not fit your dismissal. What about Jason Starr's books? What about Dave Zeltersman's? For all of your ridicule of his jacket photo, have you read what's inside the cover? because none of the books I've read of his are anything like what you are pumping up to dismiss. They are straight up noir, not comedy, and they don't use over the top violence for humor. They are all about the human condition. And what about Charles Willeford? How does his treatment of violence not fit into your dimissal? He can be very violent and very funny at it. And many (most?) of his protagonists can be sadistic pricks. Do his books lack the human condition? Going to dismiss them, too? What about Joe Lansdale? Lots of dark, bleak humor there. Is he gone? We get it, Kevin, you didn't like Disassembled Man. It's time to read another new book. Mark

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