A Crimespace member made an interesting comment recently.  Simply re-phrased as, "Anyone writing Noir is basically writing Raymond Chandler fan fiction."


Now I see why he said this.  Time after time we read books, and authors, who mimic the style of Raymond Chandler or Dashiell Hammett--but fall woefully short in creating something to surpass them.  So this question is this;  can Noir be written that has all the main ingredients of genuine Noir--but packaged together and sent marching down a different trail?  Can fresh voices rejuvenate an old man?


Can you name authors who have hacked out new territories in this genre.  I mean really, really new voices.

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Damn, Terrence, you are quick. I still have three minutes to edit my response.

I've always liked this definition of noir: Life's a bitch and then you die.
My favorite definition of Noir: "Bad things happen to bad people." It's all about character. If they're original characters, then it's not Raymond Chandler fan fiction. Also, I don't think Chandler was truly noir. Marlowe was not himself noir, he was a knight, but he operated in a noir world.
Hmm, based on some of the old films I've seen, bad things also happen to weak people who aren't necessarily bad. Usually, some evil blonde precipitates the catastrophe. Is there a moral in this?
How about: don't date blondes?
Don't date blondes? Excellent advice given my own personal experiences. Where were you when I was in my twenties?
Yes, right, I.J., weak people go bad in noir. It's the inability to be strong that leads them to ruin, typically.

I would offer that hard-boiled fiction generally features a "good guy" (Marlowe, Hammer, etc) "solving" a crime. Maybe "solving" could be replaced by "bringing the perps to justice one way or another". Hard-boiled characters usually do a lot of tough talking, both men and women, and they move with great awareness through the violent world that they willingly inhabit. The hard-boiled protagonists are often marked by a certain nobility.

Noir, on the other hand, features characters who are far more average, often not criminals in the usual sense, but find themselves ensnared in the backwater of their own bad choices. They're generally doomed (but not always), and they have only themselves to blame. Seldom are they apprehended by law enforcement or private eyes. The world they live in is often just as violent as that of the hard-boiled, but they step into it with blinders on, unaware of the treachery that awaits them.

I would also add that Vicki Hendricks is a relatively new voice in noir. She's thoroughly original and unflinching in her portrayals of fatally-flawed characters, some of whom are animals!


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