Saturday, July 31, 2010

Paris Noir

1) This is not Akashic Books' Paris Noir. That book appeared in 2008. This Paris Noir appeared in 2oo7, published by Serpent's Tail, edited by Maxim Jakubowski.
2) Michael Moorcock's story may be my entree into fantasy and alternative history. Its science-fiction aspect didn't do much for me, but the imitation of continental detective dialogue is dead on, and the references to the story's alternative history is unobtrusive enough to get a reader wondering and speculating without hitting him over the head.
3) Dominque Manotti's (or visit her Web site, in French, here) and Jean-Hugues Oppel's contributions are terse, cutting, and politically aware, in a manner that I am coming to think of as typically French.
4) When is someone going to publish a collection of Scott Phillips' short stories?

© Peter Rozovsky 2010

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9 Comments:

Anonymous solo said...

Very snazzy colo(u)r fonts, Peter. I thought it was the 14th of July for a moment and was about to break out into the Marseillaise.

I read about forty pages of the English translation of Manotti's Dead Horsemeat and hated it. Choppy writing, unsympathetic characters and a general air of unreality. Totally unconvincing. You liked it? Well, you know what they say, Peter. Horses for courses.

You recommended The Ice Harvest to me before (haven't read it yet) but I did pick up Cottonwood when I came across it. It turned out to be a Western (I guess the title should have been a clue). But I liked it enough to want to read more of Phillips.

August 01, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I haven't read "Dead Horsemeat," but I have read Manotti's "Rough Trade" and "Lorraine Connection," the latter of which won the CWA International Dagger two years ago.

Manotti may not be your cup of tea. Her writing is deliberately terse and her characters deliberately unsympathetic, and I happen to think both are a perfect match for her skeptical political point of view. Chacun à son goût.

The Ice Harvest is pretty good, but Phillips' short fiction is even better, possiblt because he is so good at setting a mood. Read one of his stories here.

Thanks for noticing my incorporation of the the tricolore. I've done something similar, though necessarily more elaborate, in posts about South African crime fiction.

August 01, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Oops, that was just a three-page sample. But it's a start. I've read four of Phillips' short stories, as far as I can recall, and the weakest of them is very good.

August 01, 2010  
Anonymous solo said...

Paris Noir? Is their any city on earth that doesn't have its noir collection?

Now that 'Big Business' in the form of Major Studios and Publishing Houses have adopted noir as a surefire marketing device how long do you think critics will be prepared to pitch their tent alongside the corporate behemoths in pushing the idea of the existence of something called noir.

I give it twelve to twenty-four months before some influential critic declares a fatwa against noir and the term becomes as deeply unfashionable as it is deeply fashionable now.

August 01, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Portland Noir, Richmond Noir, Twin Cities Noir, Trinidad Noir and (I am not making this up) Cape Cod Noir are some of the more suprising titles in Akashic Books' noir series. Philadelphia is getting its own volume, to be launched in November at a Philadelphia crime-fiction convention called -- what else? -- Noir Con. So yes, noir is a rampantly fashionable term these days. I myself ran a crime fiction reading series called Noir at the Bar, though I called it that at least as much for (near)-rhyming reasons as anything else.

The noir aesthetic has been so deeply entrenched for so long that it would take more than a critical fatwa to uproot it. An entertaining and informative presentation at Noir Con in 2008 showed how protean and versatile the word is. It's a visual style, a moral outlook, and a fashion "look," finding its way into songs, fashion catalogies and advertising in addition to the traditional books and movies.

I discussed the question here with reference to my interview with Megan Abbott, but I don't remember if anyone speculated about why noir, originally applied to movies, has been so durable and flourishing.

August 01, 2010  
Anonymous kathy d. said...

"Noir" is a great word. It slips off the tongue easily. It fits titles of books easily. It conjures up a genre of writing in four letters.

Anyone can tack on "noir" to a city, region or country's name and--viola, a book title, i.e., New York Noir, Brooklyn Noir, even Soho Noir, Coney Island Noir, etc. Or East Coat Noir, Southern Noir, etc.

It's easier than saying "New York Hard-boiled Crime Fiction." (if that's what it actually is, but whatever, it's a quick word and easy for publishers to use, and advertisers to promote.)

August 08, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

The word also lends an air of continental sophistication to which we in the Anglo-American world may be particularly susceptible.

August 08, 2010  
Anonymous kathy d. said...

Yes, true. One can say, "Oh, I'm reading a book of (whatever)noir," or "my story was published in a collection of (whatever) noir."

Publishers must love this word and its sales potential.

August 08, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Noir has also been a versatile and elusive concept, but it has picked up especially in recent years with Akashic Books' "(Place name) Noir" series. I'm not sure all the stories I've read in the books are noir, but that's according to my own shaky definition.

August 08, 2010  

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