Hardboiled / Noir Crime Fiction Message Board
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You have a noir tag, indeed! It snagged you the invitation. But I do think it's funny... much as I love Tey.
4inkdrinker Primeira Mensagem
Any specific interest among his productions?
Check out (The Killer) by ((Colin Wilson)) if you can snag a copy.
Yes, a lot of it is, at least, 'unsavory.' But several early heroes of the genre maintain a relative - and very individual - moral high ground. The Continental Op questionably, Sam Spade and Philip Marlowe and later Lew Archer, far more clearly. But they have a certain charm, either way.
I you use brackets, instead of parentheses, the 'touchstones' will work - in my opinion, easily and brilliantly. :) It does make it much easier to access the work discussed.
A thousand thanks to mikeneko on easing the discomfort of that dear lady, and ushering Mr. MacDonald into his rightful place. Papalaz: I look forward to giving them a look.
I have to thank film noir for introducing me to the genre... in books and film. But only some 15 years ago, with no reading till about five: so I'm a latecomer. Philip Marlowe, as ever inimitably played by Bogart, in The Big Sleep, is what I remember best: one of several responsible for hooking me.
17davidabrams Primeira Mensagem
My personal favorites by Hammett are The Dain Curse and The Glass Key. As attractively as The Thin Man filmed - I don't like the book. It's spare to the point of disappearance, among other things. But of course that ignores The Maltese Falcon; also excellent.
Do you have any good books about film noir?
I hope so! At any rate, I'm equally eager to explore. :)
Quartzite, thank you. Four Corners of the Night sounds extraordinarily good, from Amazon's descriptions of it. Glad to have my attention drawn that way.
Devilbuny, even in film, 'noir' is 'hard to define, but easy to recognize.' More on this (and what does define it) soon. My feeling that hardboiled and noir shade into each other and share the same ground is very strong - but I'm no expert. What do others think?
Oakesspalding commented to me that it reads like a parody of itself, and I agree. The only question is - do you find it funny?
Anyone else want to contribute a thought or two?
If my memory is correct, Roman Noir predates the Hardboiled Noir genre by quite some time. Hardboiled Noir was applied retrospectively by a couple of French critics after examining the American crime genre of the 30's and 40's.
The last 10 or 20 years has seen a Gothic revival, probably spawned from the massive growth in popularity of Fantasy, and then the birth of the modern Graphic novel. 'Modern urban gothic' is a nice fit.
If I can find a decent reference, I will post it later.
"It's almost as though Spillane took the Western genre and transposed it to the hard-boiled detective one. Westerns end with shootouts. The good guy survives (often wounded), but the law is only tangentially involved unless he's the lawman himself (see High Noon). In detective stories, the cops, no matter how bumbling (think Lestrade in the Holmes stories), are handed the crook after the brilliant detective susses out the facts."
I got some argument about whether Lestrade was a bumbler, but I think my main point remains valid.
I bought it partly because there was a kind of campy feel to reading Spillane at all. Unlike, say, Agatha Christie, however, his enormous popularity isn't redeemed by real gifts. She has the virtue of surprising you with wit and humor, self-parody, tight writing, and cunning plots. Oakes nailed Spillane, to the contrary, perfectly in the latter part of his review. So I won't indulge in creative plaigarism; merely concur.
But doesn't just the name, 'Hammer,' say a great deal we've already discussed, about Mickey Spillane?
I look forward to seeing whatever cogitno comes up with for us!
(wearing a black beret and lighting a Gitane...)
Both are short. The latter tends more to film. While my memory didn't fail me completely, it did transpsoe film and literary history. Oh we11, the years do condemn.
I have the impression that Noir fiction represents an important social marker in American history. I have read some of the fiction, I wouldn't now mind understanding the context. Can anyone point me to a suitable source(s)?
Spillane: One of only 2 crime authors that I can recall being mentioned in MASH. Winchester was forced to read 'I, the Jury' to Klinger as part-payment for Klinger having saved his life. Winchester's expression as he read was sufficient to keep Spillane of my reading list. Always trust an olde Bostonian, right?
57TheBlindHog Primeira Mensagem
Other authors who sometimes blur the lines between noir and hard-boiled fiction are Lawrence Block, Charles Willeford, George Pelecanos, and James Ellroy.
Talking about John D. Macdonald - what about One Monday we Killed Them All?? I haven't read it yet, but by looking at the synopsis and cover, it looks Noir-ish to me. Now I'm going to have to read that one soon too! This board has already planned out my next four books to read!
DUDE give those old MacDonald novels a retry. He was doing great stuff back then. One senses Travis growing tired as those colors fade.
Also shading into this category, but unfortunately pretty much out of print is Michael Z. Lewin, who I laways enjoyed.
Has anyone else read/finished I, the Jury? A few nights ago, I finally came to the end. Oakesspalding's right that he may - given the right circumstances - be better than no mystery. I may even read one of the others in my omnibus. But he's distinctly not of the best. I asked whether the appearance of self-parody amused; and I rather think the answer is 'not enough.'
However, I'm happy to hear other opinions.
Speaking of a pulp novel that is surprisingly good, and rather noirish, has anyone else here read Laura?
I remember the MASH scene, and (in this case) Winchester has my sympathy. What 'exquisite pain' it must have given his sensibilities...
The book Laura is not terribly gritty, but it is mysterious and disillusioned - and inspired a noir film. Gilda, which I loved as a teenager and watched again last week, has some affinities.
The book I'm reading right now, a 1956 paperback called My Brother's Wife, has the trappings of a mystery, but so far (I'm halfway through) is playing far more heavily on the dramatic lover's triangle than the hardboiled angle.
I think one thing that attracts me to the older noir stuff is the antiquated dialogue and catchphrases that are both amusing and cool, sometimes simultaneously. Like the early 87th Precinct novels when they explain to the reader how a good and trusted detective is often called a "Down Cat" by his peers, or when searching for details in an interregation they tell the perp to "Spell it".
In My Brother's Wife, I've found an expression I've never come across, where twice men who are known to chase women and sleep around alot are said to have acquired a "Gay Dog" reputation. Funny how times change.
But its also the poetic quality that comes through, and with that thought I leave you with a line of narration as the lead of the story regrets the indifference he feels towards the woman that loves him:
"She was anyone there in that darkness, and I knew it, and hated myself again."
Your discrimination is finely tuned: most of the (non commercial) links relate to her a Wisconisn poet.
You're right about the wonderful slang one can find, the period atmosphere - and the bit you quoted.
Also on that note, on the back of my edition here is the amusing write-up:
Mikey Spillane - is the most popular new mystery writer in the country. Over 15,000,000 copies of his books have been published in Signet editions. His unique blend of suspenseful storytelling and breathtaking action have won him millions of loyal fans in every walk of life --- from housewives to Washington political columnists, from college professors to servicemen.
'Course, TV has (or had) "standards" that would have precluded much of the books' content being put on screen.
My own opinion of Spillane is that he's not a patch on Chandler or Hammett; his touch is not as deft or as subtle as those two authors, and much of hs work seems soaked in casual misogyny.
Aptly put. I'd held off on mentioning it, but while not usually overly offended by period values from period writers (it depends), Spillane's misogyny actually does offend me. Though not perhaps even aware of any negative feelings toward them, he sees women very little as human beings, and very much as bodies. (I could cite certain details Hammer 'noticed' while preparing to shoot a woman, among other things.) Obviously other issues are also offensive: as the racism previously mentioned. Compare Chandler's Farewell, My Lovely: the representation of racism there is even harder to read, yet it's clear Chandler doesn't (completely?) share it, and the condemnation of police and government indifference is implicit. There's purpose in it, and awareness of human suffering, that is immeasurably removed from Hammer's 'I can go into dangerous areas and beat up big black men' swagger.
While I think Oakes should be forgiven his cavalier attitude in thanks for his chivalry, not only was the first 20 pages of I, the Jury the best, and most amusing in its unconscious self-parody; but I suspect his friend is capable of putting a tactful spin on opinions, as well as being (initially) wrong. :)
(I hope everyone hears the great modesty with which this statement was made....)
I leave the Chester Himes query to those who'd know better.
As for suggested noir fiction, I recommend Jim Thompson. He came along after Spillane, Chandler, and the others, but I'm not sure he's ever been matched for grittiness. I haven't read the whole work, but I can vouch for Pop 1280, South of Heaven, and The Getaway. His characters are bottomless in the depths of their depravity and not one of them has struck me as at all likable or sympathetic.
Another very hard-boiled, though not so noirish, author was Charles Willeford. His Hoke Mosley novels must not be judged by the movies "based" on them (Miami Blues, for one).
Willeford and Thompson both began writing in the 1940s and both were considered pulp writers. Thompson had just one hardcover publication in his entire career. He was "discovered" by collectors in the early eighties, at about the same time that Willeford made his big splash with the aforementioned Miami Blues.
In a sort of reverse engineering, I'd say that if you like the moralistic and humorous work of Carl Hiaasen, you may enjoy the darkly humorous Hoke Moseley novels by Charles Willeford, and if you enjoy those, it may be worth your time to explore the very dark and gritty noir of Jim Thompson.
I can also recommend The Grifters and The Killer Inside Me.
Maybe the darkest of the noir writers before Marc Behm's "The Eye Of The Beholder" was published in English. Touchstones report the wrong result for "The Eye of the Beholder".
(Correct me if I'm wrong.)
Sounds like it was more than time I got into the trilogy.
(insert five minute break here)
Penguin Non-Classics has some great new covers. I would have deferred and bought the omnibus and so on, but.... I saw a remaindered copy of March Violets for seventy-four cents. Yes, you know what happened. :) As I've been wanting it for two or three years, at that price... it vanquishes all thoughts of 'I can't just at the moment'!
Back to the subject: the same press issued my copy of Laura, which I found surprisingly good; and Ride the Pink Horse, as I recall, was well-written, as well as being made into a somewhat haunting film. (I haven't seen it since I was 15, though, so that judgment may be wobbly.) My impression has been that Hughes was the best female practitioner of the hardboiled/pulp/noir novel - at least in the 40s.
For anyone not watching the other thread, a handful of us seem to have decided on doing a group read of Jim Thompson's After Dark, My Sweet, beginning Sept. 1. Hopefully others who are Thompson fans will join the discussion, or otherwise enlighten or argue with us (albeit politely!), when the time comes, whether or not you read along. :)
Do you all feel like attempting, say, three group reads and seeing how it goes? No one should feel pressured to read or discuss the books, but it would give us food for discussion, and perhaps stir us to read things we'd like to but might not get on our own. They'd be a complement, not a replacement, for our more casual and varied interchanges. Any interest, reactions, or ideas??
Also, got the cover for be my victim up the other night, for anyone interested.
If we want to stretch the boundaries a bit, a great noir graphic novel, is Torso ... it's a retelling of Eliot Ness' later career as chief of police in Cleveland, working on a particularly disturbing -- and never solved -- serial murder case.
Torso, I confess, sounds interesting but not appealing (- to me). However, I've been very interested in getting Gun, With Occasional Music - among other of Lethem's work. While we can stick to a more rigid definitiion of what noir IS (if that's possible ;) ), I think the group should encompass conversation about books influenced by noir, or books that play with it, twist it, subvert it, or reference its conventions in some interesting way. I'm glad to see some being drawn in. (And I thank you both.)
I'm short on time, but will love to have a look at the cover later on, reverends. KromesTomes, welcome, and thanks for adding to the discussion. :)
From a movie standpoint, you could say that any films not shot in black and white during the 40's and 50's aren't truly film noir, yet this would leave out more modern examples that are worthy of the name, like the 70's modern day remake of The Long Goodbye, the Coen Brothers' Miller's Crossing (an uncredited remake of The Glass Key) and Big Lebowski (modern rehash of The Maltese Falcon), or even untraditional attempts like Red Rock West and Bladerunner (Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?).
Of course, I did trail off on a movies, which is my stronger area of knowledge, but my point is that Sci-Fi and Crime Noir are two great tastes that go better together, when properly cooked, as in the case of Gun, with Occasional Music.
Also, I have to protest against the "gimmicky" comment. Almost all good fiction has a gimmick, or hook, that seperates it from the rest. That's what draws us in, and that's what adds a depth to the character and his predicament. You could call Cornell Woolrich's The Black Curtain "gimmicky" because of its use of the now cliche Amnesia plot device (as indeed many people did the same with Memento, a great modern noir that was knocked by people whi couldn't look past the "gimmick" to see what was done with it), and The Maltese Falcon itself falls into that big "gimmicky" whole with the old "avenging the death of a partner" cliche.
Not arguing against your opinion of Motherless Brooklyn, mind you, although I don't agree. I just really dislike the "gimmick" argument when it comes to entertainment criticism.
Newman is a renowned film critic and draws on his love of noir to create a very credible pastiche that incorporates many of the film actors of the golden era (e.g., Andy Rooney hawking newspapers on every corner, Edward G. Robinson strangling Joan Bennett with a string of pearls.)
I can't imagine why no one has filmed this very intelligent noir tribute.
Talking about Blade Runner Paul M. Sammon has written a book about the making of it called Future Noir. I always loved that movie - dark and moody - perfect Noir environment.
The original movie is perhaps more violent than the remake as the violence is, in a way, more 'real'. What really sells the original for me is the direction, as John Boorman is very much an 'auter' director and he infuses the film with its own unique sensibility. Well worth watching.
Perhaps when I get into one of the situations oakesspalding mentions. ;)
I've been enjoying the discussion - especially about genre-bending or -crossing, Gun, With Occasional Music and Night Mayor, film, etc.
The problem is, about 2/3rd of the way through the book, the main character turns into something of a one-trick pony. And, worse still, the ending is utterly, utterly awful.
So, yes, it's worth reading for the good bits, but there are, unfortunately, bad bits too.
Oh, and it was made into a movie. Which, from what I've heard, ended up being pretty mediocre. Bum.
Don't get me wrong, though. The parts of it I liked, I really liked. But the parts of it that are bad, are quite bad. Especially the ending. Overall, I would say I'm glad I read it, but I can only say that by pretending the book abruptly finishes halfway through. :)
On the 'possible group reads' thread, devilbuny's put up a great list of prospective books to read together once we finish After Dark, My Sweet. You might have a look at it, and post if any of them interest you - mentioning (apologies, tartalom!) which ones. :)
The car is an 1973 Ford Falcon XB GT. Built in Australia for the local market (never exported). It ran a 351 Cleveland, if that means anting to you. It does to me .... an early-rising neighbour had one, and she just loved to hear that motor roar.
Film noir is modern, but suggests the modern world has a darkly dystopian tinge. However, it does have a somewhat more specific set of characteristics. Noir literature (which I frankly think is darker, and which is a little different) is also broader.
Last night I watched The Lady from Shanghai - which is an odd but fairly definite bit of film noir. Even where it is bright, it's distorted, queasy, vertiginous. From the beginning, you've stepped into a madhouse, or a 'funhouse,' where everything's distorted - and certainly you're there at the end.
The femme fatale, may I say - as one woman speaking of another - is breathtaking. (But I've always liked her.)
I hope a fair number of people will join the conversation, in whatever way suits you individually - whether you're reading a book; have read it; are familiar with the author, if not the work; or are simply curious. One post or seventeen; whatever suits you will be fine. The only constant is that whatever you contribute will be valued. And appreciated. :)
Anyway, are there any fans of Martin Cruz Smith's Arkady Renko books? I've read them all and just finished "Wolves eat Dogs" ... I think he's one of the best noir writers currently going.
It`s a collection of crime short stories, set in Notts and written by local writers. Some are amateurs, one or two being serving Police Officers. I recall that one was a Detective Sergeant Keith Someboy-Or-Other, based at Bulwell in Nottingham (known to residents as Bull-hell !).
I`m sorry if I`m a bit vague here. We had a planned house move fall through so a lot of our stuff is in boxes and hard to get at.
You might find a copy on Abe - the publisher was(is?) run by a man named Ross Bradshaw and I`ve seen other books he was involved with on there.
Just as a side-issue, another Nottingham writer (and an ex-Nottingham Police Officer) is John Harvey , whose detective is a cat-loving jazz-fan. I`ve been to readings by him and couldn`t help noticing he was a cat-loving jazz fan.
Sorry to hear the move fell through, nickhoonaloon. Particularly once you'd packed!
Actually, Nottingham gets a bad press - it also has the history, the countryside, myself, lots of good things like that.
Of course, City of Cat-Loving Jazz Fans wouldn`t have quite the same ring to it as a title, though you could argue it`s just as appropriate. There are certainly more jazz gigs than shootings !
Anyway, returning to the matter in hand, a few choices of my own that people might like - New York Noir - not fiction, but interesting to see how the style of the `30s crime photos influenced the films.
Meant to be kids books, but popular with a big kid like me - Felix Bogarte`s The Dead Detective books - Throw Away The Key , Ghost Car 49 and others - published by Books Noir of Glasgow. Can he really be called Felix Bogarte ?
Lastly, Shadow Man, the Dashiell Hammett.
Just noticed - Felix Bogarte is actually two people , Joan Love and Mhairi MacDiarmid. Great stuff anyway.
Their website is called www crimepays or something like that. It looks worth checking out anyway.
Greenwich Village is where David Johansen lives isn`t it ?
I was reading the review and when it quoted Harry Fannin's one-line summation of Lolita, I laughed so hard my computer monitor gained an Earl Shibe-like coating of Mountain Dew.
Markson apparently wrote 3 detective novels, but the third one hasn't been re-printed, to my knowledge. I found the book with the first two novels at one of the larger B&N stores in my area. You may have to order it, though, because not all B&N's will carry it (judging from my local store, which never carried it). Do track it down, you won't regret it.
Linkmeister, I started the Markson today. Looks like it will be fun.
You're very welcome, Eurydice. There's very little I like more than "discovering" an overlooked or semi-forgotten gem of a book and passing it along to others I think would enjoy it; unfortunately, it doesn't happen often enough.
I haven't read any of Markson's other works either and, despite all the positive words in favor of doing so, probably won't ever bother with them. I simply prefer reading stories where characters are shot, stabbed, clubbed, light-sabered and/or ensorcelled, and I don't think Markson's other works qualify. I have, however, dipped my toes into the literature pool by beginning to read Michael Chabon's The Yiddish Policemen's Union. I'm about 20-ish pages into it and the story's grabbed me pretty strongly. I'll post my impression of the book after I finish it.
Rabe was a contemporary of John D. MacDonald's at Fawcett Gold Medal books when it was publishing OPBs; they changed editors and the new one didn't get along or like Rabe's books, apparently. There are a couple of good biographical sketches and eulogies for the author in this Stark House Press edition.
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