RE: RARA-AVIS: Nag, Nag, Nag Noir

From: Mark Sullivan (
Date: 22 Jul 2009

  • Next message: Allan Guthrie: "Re: RARA-AVIS: Nag, Nag, Nag Noir"

    Kevin responded to my response:
    "A lot of the books I've read are not the relatively mainstream (or sniffing around the edges of mainstream) writers and books you're defending. A lot of them are from really small presses and vanity presses, sent to me (often unsolicited) to review. And I'm still getting occasional stories submitted directly to me for THRILLING DETECTIVE, even though they're supposed to go to Gerald first." There's the difference, not what is written, but what is no longer filtered. There are now so many cheap and alternative distribution systems in place that much that never would have seen the light of day is now out there in one form or another. Of course, the old system wasn't perfect and good things were sometimes filtered -- we all know the story of a Gold Medal editor telling Willeford to stop submitting his work because he would never be published (except unknowingly). And the new system isn't all bad -- didn't Dave get his start by self-publishing the novel that became Fast Lane? Still, I'm guessing the DIY process has also led to the appearance of a lot of material that should have been kept in the dark. I've had mostly good luck with small presses, probably due to most of my selections being largely based on recommendations from here. But if the easy internet distribution of music (I'm not implying that making available is anywhere near the same as finding an audience for what is available) is any indication, there's a lot of crap along with the gems. As for why I'm so pissed, although I'd claim it's more boredom from reading the same sweeping generalizations over and over. Yes, part of it does have to do with my being an adjunct instructor (not professor). I grade far too many papers with little or no evidence to illustrate and support the points, in other words, little or no reason to accept the bold, unsupported assertions. This time you finally brought up a plausible explanation of how the current environment is different, leading to different availability (whether its read or floats to the top is a whole other question), and why our reading experiences are different (I don't have a slush pile sent to me). Now, let's get on to the far more interesting question you raised, the dilution of the term noir to where it has expanded to apply nearly anything with a gun or a crime. I wonder if it will snap back somewhat when marketing moves on to another label, as rock and roll has (a bit). For a while, rock and roll applied to any and all music marketed to youth, but it's become somewhat more focused as its lost a bit of its market share. And no, I'm not trying to start the definition war again. Mark

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