Feminist, Fictionista, Foodie, Francophile

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

N is for Noir

I like my fiction dark. (Most of the time. I actually have a really soft spot for cozy mysteries.) When I was writing the twice-weekly stories for America Online's "NoHo Noir," I routinely put my characters in situations that were dark. One of my best friends was particularly horrified by one story in which a kitten got killed. He has never let me forget about it. (And it's not like I would kill a kitten in real life, for God's sake. In addition to being having a soft spot for cozy mysteries, I have a soft spot for fuzzy creatures. I also have several friends who do animal rescue. So there's always a cat or two on the premises. but I digress.)

I don't remember the first "noir" story I ever read, but it was probably something by Cornell Woolrich. I've always been a sucker for pithy sentences and his line, "First you dream and then you die," which was borrowed for one of the Nightmare on Elm Street movies, is one of my favorite quotes.  According to a blurb on Amazon.com, "Cornell Woolrich was called the Poe of the 20th century and the poet of its shadows."

I'm pretty sure that the first time I saw Cornell Woolrich's name in print was in an essay by Harlan Ellison, himself something of a poet of the shadows. ("I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream" is in my top five of all-time favorite short stories, and his "Repent Harlequin, said the Tick-Tock Man" is also on that short list.)  Woolrich also wrote under the pseudonym "William Irish.," which is just one of those tough-guy sounding names that is too cool. I imagine a guy in a Fedora, an unfiltered cigarette dangling from his lips, banging away at an old typewriter. 

My favorite noir authors, in no particular order, are:
Jim Thompson
Dorothy B. Hughes
and the late, great Elmore Leonard.
Charles Willeford
Ian Rankin (who represents "Tartan Noir)

Noir flourished in the niddle of the last century but for my money, it's the genre that typefies this post-millennial time.






2 comments:

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