Wednesday, April 16, 2014
N is for Noir
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:
Dorothy B. Hughes
and the late, great Elmore Leonard.
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.