Sunday, April 06, 2008

A long day and a short post from NoirCon 2008

Day Three had an early beginning and a late end at NoirCon 2008. What I don't get to now, I'll discuss tomorrow night.

The convention's one session that dealt explicitly and exclusively with international fiction unexpectedly had little to do with the usual subjects at Detectives Beyond Borders. The session was Saturday afternoon's tribute to Georges Simenon, with William Boyle and Scott Phillips.

Each expressed a preference for Simenon's romans durs, his hard, tough, psychological novels, over his books and stories about Inspector Maigret, and both offered sound, noir-based reasons for doing so. The romans durs put their protagonists in tight, tough, bad situations that get tighter, tougher and worse, sometimes, even often, when no crime is committed. Phillips' and Boyle's preferences made sense; the convention is called NoirCon, after all, and not CrimeCon.

This puts a positive spin on an artistic decision that some critics have regarded as a grubby bid for respectability on Simenon's part. Clive James, for example, wrote that "the Maigret novels acquired such prestige that Simenon’s action novels without Maigret in them started counting as proper novels, the absence of the star turn being thought of as a sign of artistic purity."

Noir, then, does not necessarily imply crime.

© Peter Rozovsky 2008

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