RARA-AVIS: Re: akashic noir

From: Kevin Burton Smith (kvnsmith@thrillingdetective.com)
Date: 03 Jul 2010

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    Overall, a surprisingly strong series, despite the sometimes wonky selection of locales (which, according to Akashic publisher Johnny Temple, has as much to do with finding a viable and willing local editor as it does with the "noirishness" of any particular city) and the old boy/girl network that sees the same authors over and over again regardless of their sometimes dubious connection to the featured location.

    And in some cases, the surprising willingness by some editors to bypass established crime fiction writers from the city in question in favor of writers from the lit realm or simply the editors' friends who, once again, may have no particular connection to the city in question.

    And David wrote:

    > Most interesting: the Edgar for Best Short Story has twice gone to Akashic Noir contributors -- and from the lit realm, not the crime realm: Susan Straight from LA Noir and Luis Alberto Urrea from Phoenix Noir. As one who feels a particular loathing for the phrase "transcends the genre," I find this interesting. And humbling.

    Nah, David. No need to be humbled.

    Far too often, being from the lit realm doesn't mean better -- just more pretentious and subjected to too many touchy-feelie creative writing courses. And it's a lot easier to get away with it in the short form. Given the recent dismal track record of celebrated "real" writers who have "stooped" to writing crime novels, perhaps it's just as well that Akashic's high-faluting dabblers focus on short fiction. It's a lot harder to sustain pretension and lack of coherent plot in a piece of crime fiction stretched over hundreds and hundreds of pages. Pretension's sorta like habanero sauce. A dab on something is good -- but who wants to drink a cup of it?

    The notion that "anyone" can write a good detective novel has been disproved time and again not just by hack writers but some of the most acclaimed writers around.

    Kevin Burton Smith Thrilling Detective Web Site

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