Noir Con 2008, Part II — No boundaries?
And why should I worry about what is international crime fiction and what isn't at a conference with a French name ("Noir") devoted to an American art form that honored an Irish author (Ken Bruen) and a publisher (Dennis McMillan) whose offerings have included seminal Dutch and Australian crime writers?
Highlights from Day Two:
1) Jason Starr's observation toward the end of his Friday panel discussion with Ken Bruen that "The French have a much wider definition of noir" than do Americans. Could he have meant that the French critics who coined the term as applied to film and fiction in the middle of the last century emphasized atmosphere more than today's writers do?
I recall a television interview with the director Jean-Pierre Melville and the star Alain Delon included as a DVD extra with one of Melville's movies. In today's terms, Delon was a laughable parody of cool, literally staring into space and blowing smoke while Melville talked about the movie. From the viewpoint of, say, any time after maybe the early '70s, that looks more kitsch than noir.
Maybe he meant that French writers have taken noir in directions more political than American crime writers have explored (Jean-Patrick Manchette, Jean-Claude Izzo, Didier Daeninckx)?
2) Bruen's declaration during the same discussion that, after having written a few "straight" novels, "I really wanted to write a crime novel, but I wanted to see if I could write it the way the American hard-boiled school writes."
3) The award for the publisher Dennis McMillan, whose offerings have included books from Janwillem van de Wetering, Robert van Gulik and Arthur W. Upfield.
4) News from Akashic Books that another novel from Juan de Recacoechea, author of American Visa, is being translated into English as we speak.
© Peter Rozovsky 2008