Wednesday, August 21, 2013

My Bouchercon 2013 panels: Noir, hard-boiled, fantasy, and reality

My noir and hard-boiled panel at Bouchercon 2013 in Albany, N.Y., next month will also be a reality and fantasy panel, fantasy meaning nostalgia, pulp, and other forms of retreat from the everyday.

In this corner, representing reality, Dana King's Grind Joint, with its utter lack of illusion about the supposed benefits of a casino for an economically ravaged Pennsylvania town. In that corner, Terrence McCauley's violent Prohibition-era novel Prohibition and Eric Beetner's post-apocalyptic cannibal/survivor tale Stripper Pole at the End of the World.  Somewhere between these extremes, showing affinities at times with one, at times with the other, are Mike Dennis and Jonathan Woods, who join King, McCauley, and Beetner on the panel.

McCauley harks back to Dashiell Hammett and Paul Cain (and to writers and movie makers who harked back to Hammett and Cain). While his book's themes of loyalty, doubt, and betrayal are confined to no one era, the cover of the novel, at upper left, quite accurately reflects the early- and mid-twentieth-century gats 'n' gloves mythos to which McCauley makes a modern-day contribution. He and Beetner are acutely aware of periods in American popular culture that preceded their own.

King, on the other hand, writes about a world where beaten-down cities are desperate for the next big thing, where governments happily throw cash at companies to relocate to (or remain in) their state, and a lot more money seems to circulate among corporations and politicians than among the relocated workers. For all King's affinities with Elmore Leonard, George V. Higgins or King's amico Charlie Stella, it's a world you can find lurking behind today's headlines.

Fantasy? Reality? Pulp? Bad juju? You'll find it all at Bouchercon ... and here, at Detectives Beyond Borders.

How about you, lovers of noir and hard-boiled? Is your favorite reading reality? Fantasy? Or some mix of both?
Eric Beetner, Mike Dennis, Dana King, Terrence McCauley, and Jonathan Woods will be part of the "Goodnight, My Angel: Hard-Boiled, Noir, and the Reader's Love Affair With Both" panel, with your humble blogkeeper as moderator, at Bouchercon 2013 on Friday, Sept. 20, at 10:20 a.m.

© Peter Rozovsky 2013

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Blogger Gerald So said...

Good question, Peter. I'd say I prefer less-romanticized hardboiled, but all fiction dodges reality in some way. For example, one actual person probably couldn't do everything a lone hardboiled protagonist does to solve a mystery.

I'm also a fan of Robert B. Parker's Spenser, who is steeped in romantic notions. In Parker's best books, though, Spenser muddles through a realistic world, and he is the only one who casts himself in a romantic light (often sarcastically).

August 21, 2013  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

It was a bit of a trick question, really, an effort to think about the different ways stories appeal to readers, and just a circumstance of this panel's composition.

Prohibition is a hard-boiled story, for instance, but there's something romantic and glamorous about the gangster tradition. Also, Beetner and McCauley have each written novellas in the "Fight Card" series, set in the boxing world and released under the house name Jack Tunney.

The series includes stories set in the 1950s and 1970s, I think, it is said to have been inspired by boxing stories of the 1930s and '40s, and its house author name combines the name of the two best-known boxers of the 1920s. That in itself is of interest. Why those names and eras? What appeal fo they hold for authors and readers today? How do these new stories differ from the originals?

I think this is going to be an enjoyable panel.

August 21, 2013  
Blogger Kelly Robinson said...

I had to look up Paul Cain (I thought you meant James M.). I guess he represents another big gap in what I know about pulp fiction. I know some of his screen work, but I wouldn't have known his name.

August 21, 2013  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

For a while no one knew his real name--George? Peter? Ruric? SIms? He wrote little, but Fast One is the hardest of the hard-boiled, as good as anything Hammett wrote, and probably tougher than any of Hammett except maybe parts of The Glass Key. If he had written just few more books about as good, he would be mentioned up there with Hammett and Chandler.

August 21, 2013  
Blogger pattinase (abbott) said...

Wish I was going to be there. Sounds like a great panel.

August 21, 2013  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

This one should be fun and educational, all right. I'm sorry you won't be there this year. I was thinking after the discussion at your place that informal session on bad Dortmunders in the movies might be enjoyable.

August 21, 2013  

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