DiscussãoHardboiled / Noir Crime Fiction

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Ago 6, 2006, 4:16 am

Thinking this morning it occurred to me that some of the classical canon of literature there are books that might be classified as noir were they not pert of the canon. That set me wondering about other stuff that might have missed the Noir classification.

How about:

Crime and Punishment by Dostoyevsky
Hunger by knut hamsun
The Outsider by Camus
I Spit on your graves by Boris Vian
Exquisite Corspe by Poppy Z Brite

any others?

Ago 6, 2006, 6:42 am

Okay haven't read it yet but from what I heard I would say it would be noir - Ira Levin's A Kiss Before Dying. I think this one gets overlooked because Levin often writes kinda horror/thriller/sci-fi fare.

Ago 6, 2006, 7:54 am

I have read A Kiss Before Dying, it's an old favorite and I agree, it should be classed as noir.

Ago 12, 2006, 6:07 pm

I nominate Sanctuary and by William Faulkner. He always claimed he wrote it to be a shocker, to make money. But when it came to actually publishing it, he completely rewrote it, ending with a book still dark and shocking, but now much more than mere pulp. The Library of America's Crime Novels American Noir describes its contents as exploring "themes of crime, guilt, deception, obssessive passion, murder and the disintegrating psyche." All perfectly descriptive of Sanctuary as well.

Set 23, 2006, 12:13 am

I totally concur about Sanctuary, and nominate Absalom, Absalom!, also by Faulkner: prolix and convoluted as hell, but essentially it's Chinatown in Southern Gothic dress -- and therefore, IMHO, eminently noir.

Seems to me that some of the Snopes Trilogy qualifies as noir too: "The Long Hot Summer" and at least part of the sections concerning Mink, perhaps.

I'm tempted to argue for Light in August's status as noir too; but I don't think The Wild Palms quite makes it. Thoughts?

Set 24, 2006, 11:31 am

Well, I think The Wild Palms deserves honorable mention in this category. And you are so right about the Mink Snopes story lines...depending on my mood when I read them, though, I can see them as some of the most humorous (though black as it gets) passages in the trilogy, which is fraught with 'em. Farcical, you might say.

Set 24, 2006, 3:35 pm

Seems to me that black humor and noir are not mutually exclusive; Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler managed to slip in some mordant ha-has into their work on a fairly regular basis, and such works as The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (book and movie) and Stanley Kubrick's The Killing (movie) essentially boil down to a "man proposes/Allah disposes" punch-line. Then there's the black humor of more recent practitioners such as Charles Willeford and even James Ellroy...

Part of my reservation as regards The Wild Palms stems from the fact that the Coen brothers cribbed from it for the flood scene in O Brother, Where Art Thou?; but mostly I think of TWP as being more of an existential book than a noir. Noir and existentialism do overlap quite a bit, but I think that there are subtle differences between them, and when noir is at its best, it's not merely a fashion statement or moody lighting and camera angles. Albert Camus was supposedly inspired to write The Stranger by The Postman Always Rings Twice, but I don't think anyone would seriously nominate The Stranger as noir, while TPART usually is.

Similarly, I can't in good conscience nominate Alberto Moravia's The Conformist, even though it does have noir and spy thriller elements: ultimately the book is too didactic and too existential to qualify as noir.

8thesecretllama Primeira Mensagem
Nov 2, 2006, 10:58 pm

I'm tracking with Crime and Punishment. However, what about something, perhaps, too contemporary. I was thinking about Umberto Eco's Foucault's Pendulum. Definately fits the noir movement, but way out of the box.

9woodshopcowboy Primeira Mensagem
Editado: Dez 4, 2006, 7:53 pm

Howdy -

I agree on Sanctuary, as I haven't read the rest, well bollox on forming an opinion. I do have a suggestion - what about more contemporary stuff. I'm thinking Lawrence Block's Scudder books or Cormac McCarthy's Western/Noir mashups like Blood Meridian and No Country for Old Men. And as for stretching the borders of genre for a bit, I contend that Phillip K Dick's A Scanner Darkly and the movie version of Blade Runner would fit right in. Drugs, sex, and violence. All you are really lookin' for in a noir.

Dez 18, 2006, 4:03 pm

Uvula said: "Noir and existentialism do overlap quite a bit, but I think that there are subtle differences between them, and when noir is at its best, it's not merely a fashion statement or moody lighting and camera angles. Albert Camus was supposedly inspired to write The Stranger by The Postman Always Rings Twice, but I don't think anyone would seriously nominate The Stranger as noir, while TPART usually is."
Mark Conard (The Philosophy of Film Noir) argues that The Stranger is noir, but Euro-noir as opposed to the Yankee variety. See this excerpt:

Mar 29, 2007, 12:49 pm

The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter has "themes of crime, guilt, deception, obssessive passion, murder and the disintegrating psyche."

Although most would not classify it as noir, it definately has elements of the genre.

Out 11, 2007, 12:03 am

Not sure I'd classify The Stranger as "noir".
Camus mentioned Simenon's influence. Some of Simenon I'd call french noir, especially the solo
novels (not the Maigrets). The Man Who Watched the Trains Go By is an old favorite.
Lately reading Francis Carco. Perversity,
Frenzy, Only a Woman, etc. Definitely "noir".

Mar 19, 2008, 1:19 am

Barrabas by Par Lagerkvist
Journal of the Plague Year Daniel DeFoe
Moll Flanders Daniel Defoe
I think there are significant noir aspects to Dickens's Our Mutual Friend, a dark, urban, money-obsessed novel, as well as to the gothic fiction of the late 18th century.
Also: Poe, "Tell-Tale Heart."

Mar 20, 2008, 12:30 am

Going back awhile: definitely Philip K. Dick, despite the ostensible genre, is a noir writer. Nice pick. I'd challenge Defoe's A Journal of the Plague Year, though - it's dark enough, but not criminal; Moll Flanders is criminal, shadowy, amoral and money-grubbing, so I concede, with one caveat - she's exuberantly alive, nonetheless, and noir often seem worn flat, jaded.

Ostrom, I have a small volume of early criminal fiction, The Counterfeit Lady Unveiled, from the late 17th, and early 18th centuries - containing precursors to Defoe. I'll have to give it a shot, sometime soon. As with any genre's evolution or beginning, it fascinates me.

Mar 23, 2008, 10:13 pm

Eurydice, The Counterfeit Lady Unveiled sounds splendid. I must look for it on alibris. Thanks for the recommendation. I think you're probably right about Journal of the Plague Year--not enough crime, per se. Brigid in The Maltese Falcon reminds me a bit of Moll, although the former is a sociopath and the latter isn't (details, details); but both are spunky. Beth Kalikoff has a book on Victorian "true crime" pamphlets and the like--Murder and Moral Decay, I think it's called. The World of Mystery Fiction by Elliot L. Gilbert is a nice anthology/overview of mystery fiction in general, starting with Vidocq and ending with--Borges! It's all short fiction, so for noir (which he calls the Black Mask School), he includes "The House on Turk Street" by Hammett, "I'll Be Waiting," by Chandler, "Murder at the Automat," by Woolrich, and "The Sleeping Dog," by MacDonald. The titles alone are great.

Mar 23, 2008, 11:20 pm

The titles alone are great.

Agreed! I'll have to look for that. The Victorian 'true crime' anthology is good to know about, too.
I hope The Counterfeit Lady Unveiled, if found, meets expectation. But there's another great title, I think!

Moll and Brigid do share something - well-spotted, and distinct - but compassing incestuous marriage and frequent theft in pursuit of existence is different (alas, how much!) from multiple murders in search of wealth. Or so I think. :)

Mar 24, 2008, 12:03 am

Agreed--Moll operates from necessity, Brigid from sociopathy. What a survivor Moll is! Unfortunately, the Kalikoff book is a scholarly one, a "study"--highly readable and unpretentious, but not a collection like The Counterfeit Lady Unveiled--a great title, indeed.

Abr 29, 2008, 10:45 pm

Do you think graphic novels could ever be added to the Noir list. I was thinking of Deadly Beloved by Max Allan Collins

Maio 8, 2008, 4:55 pm

Have any of you read much of Cornell Woolrich. I've read recently that he is the father of noir. I really would like to read his books but they are impossible to find in used bookstores. have to buy them new online.

Maio 8, 2008, 6:15 pm

I have a bunch of Woolrich I bought in paperback back in the eighties. It is classic noir stuff. You can get it used on-line for a bit cheaper.

Maio 9, 2008, 7:12 am

Cornell Woolrich is amazing! I'm not *that* well-read in the noir genre, but he's one of my favourites. He's really good at creating tension and a creepy, claustrophobic atmosphere. It drives me nuts that so few of his books are in print (although I think that might be changing.)

Maio 9, 2008, 8:45 am

#9 / #14

I'd say PK Dick wasn't the only writer classed as sci-fi who owes a debt to noir writing. Neuromancer and other early William Gibson novels are also very noir in feel.

Maio 9, 2008, 10:58 am

Going back to message 18 about whether graphic novels can be consider noir ... my answer is definitely yes ... check out Paul Auster's City of Glass, a graphic novel treatment of Auster's book of the same name (excellent on its on merit, along with the entire New York Trilogy) ... also, although it's based on a true crime, Torso was fantastic ... and I've got a graphic novel version of one of Raymond Chandler's novels that looks good, although I haven't read it yet.

Maio 9, 2008, 4:37 pm

Apparently there is a version of In Cold Blood in graphic novel format. I think it is called Capote in Kansas.

Maio 9, 2008, 7:21 pm

22: Altered Carbon by Richard K. Morgan is very noir as well. Moreso, I'd say, than Gibson's sprawl books.

Editado: Maio 10, 2008, 7:33 am

#25 Could not say id I agree with you yet - Altered Carbon is on the TBR mountain.

Ago 18, 2008, 12:38 am

I like Lawrence Block. Do the Tanner books count? I like his humor as in Me Tanner, You Jane.

Jun 11, 2012, 9:37 am

Could Flannery O'Conner's novels (Wise Blood, The Violent Bear It Away) be considered noir?

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