Re: RARA-AVIS: Noir for the classroom?

From: Patrick King (
Date: 09 Mar 2010

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     Hello, everyone!

    I'm a high school language arts (English) teacher, and I've just been asked to come up with suggestions for a new elective class called "Great Books." The idea is to have a class that would offer students compelling, contemporary books that are high interest, yet have some "deeper" issues to discuss. Of course, since I'm on the list, you can already guess that I'd love to include a contemporary noir thriller.


    I'd recommend Jim Thompson's novel, THE CRIMINAL, about a teenage boy who commits a horrible crime, told from multiple points of view. It examines to what extent the boy is really responsible for his actions, is very controversial and thought provoking but probably not objectionable to most parents. In fact, it's something parents should read as well.

    Another great morally thought provoking and brilliantly constructed novel I'd include is NOBODY RUNS FOREVER by Richard Stark (Donald Westlake). Anyone who can read that book and then not run around desperately searching for the sequels, the equally good ASK THE PARROT, and DIRTY MONEY, is more restrained than I am.

    Patrick King


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