Monday, October 31, 2016

Why NoirCon is good for the soul

Woody Haut talks about David Goodis and Central Avenue, Los
Angeles. Photos by Peter Rozovsky unless otherwise noted.
Charles Ardai, Stona Fitch
You know what noir is about? Good fellowship, empathy, sharp wit and keen intelligence, subversion without destruction, doing good for others, working hard at work one loves, and communicating that passion, among other things. And it's about gin. Always gin.

Leigh Redhead
That's how it was at Philadelphia's NoirCon 2016, which ended Sunday. Ninety-nine percent of what we hear, read, see, or are told is trivial at best, arrant lies and bullshit at worst.  I thank Woody Haut, Charles Ardai, Stona Fitch, Barry Gifford, Aurélien Masson, Leigh Redhead, Buffy Hastings and others for reminding me that things don't always have to be that way. And I thank Vicki Hendricks for the gin — a Hendrick's and tonic, naturally.

Jonathan Woods, Annie Finnegan

Ed Pettit flanked by Eric Rice (left) and Cullen
Haut's presentation on David Goodis and Los Angeles' Central Avenue was the first time I had the feeling I was seeing something real about L.A. Ardai, who has enjoyed success in several fields, talked about how his Hard Case Crime imprint publishes the books he loves — even if these include no books by Harry Whittington — illustrated with cover art he loves just as much. Receiving a canvas by Robert McGinnis, Ardai said, is like getting a fresco by Giotto in the mail.

Aurélien Masson
Masson was passionate and voluble about the venerable French crime imprint he heads, Série noire, about what it's doing, about how French crime fiction has changed, and about authors all across that political spectrum can find a home there and still go out for a drink together.And Fitch shared the story of his Concord Free Press and its unusual "business" model.

Charlie Stella
Gifford, interviewed on stage by Wesley Stace, offered inspiring reminder that classic books don't just reappear; someone has to do the work to get them before the public. Gifford's Black Lizard press did that for many of the hard-boiled and noir classics that we take for granted today as part of our cultural landscape.

Mike Dennis assumes his Don
Donovan persona for Wednesday's
Noir at the Bar at the Pen & Pencil
Vicki Hendricks, Leigh Redhead
Redhead, who also read at Wednesday's pre-Noircon Noir at the Bar at Philadelphia's Pen & Pencil Club, gave the only conventional presentation on a "Masters of Suspense" panel, but her thoughts on Scott Smith were so sharply focused and her examples so well chosen that I want to read Smith. (The unconventional choices were by Lano Waiwaiole, who talked about Richard Stark as a suspense writer, and Radha Vatsal, who discussed adventure films of the 1910s directed by women and featuring women in prominent roles.)

Suzanne Solomon, Cullen Gallager,
Ed Pettit, Andrew Nette
Vicki Hendricks, Hendrick's and tonic, and me.
Photo by Lou Boxer
And how nice it is to be among people to whom books matter. Huzzahs and thanks to Lou Boxer and Deen Kogan for the best edition yet of this excellent festival. I'll be beck at NoirCon in 2018. You should be, too.

Richard Vine
Jay Gertzman, Jedidiah Ayres, Charles Ardai
Veteran Boxers Association, Ring 1, site
 of NoirCon's wind-down gathering
Radha Vatsal, Lano Waiwaiole, Leigh Redhead
Bob and Barbara's
Richard Edwards, Warren Moore
On the way to Port Richmond Books
The main NoirCon site
© Peter Rozovsky 2016



Blogger Monson said...

The whole thing looks very dark and disturbing

October 31, 2016  
Anonymous Don Donovan said...

2018? I'll be there!

October 31, 2016  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Go to hell, pal. We were all cheerful and happy. Got that?

October 31, 2016  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Don, you'll be welcome, but give Mike Dennis a wide berth. The guy's bad news.

October 31, 2016  
Blogger Dana King said...

Sorrier by the day I couldn't make it, but the day job couldn't be worked around this month. I have every intention of being there in 2018. Lou puts on a hell of a show.

November 01, 2016  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

And this one was the best yet.

November 01, 2016  
Blogger Rick Ollerman said...

Almost made it this year, should make it next time. This past Saturday I was at Ed Gorman's memorial celebration in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and it was a standing room only crowd with plenty of good stories and reminiscences of Ed. So I had a good reason....

November 01, 2016  
Blogger seana graham said...

I'm betting that photo taken on the way to Port Richmond will grace the cover of another book. Looks like another great event. I'm interested in that whole Goodis and L.A. talk.

November 01, 2016  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Rick: Someone asked about you (I forget who it was), had heard you were coming. Ed seems to have been much loved, so you had a good reason not to show up. And I ma have the sad honor of having shot the cover for the last edition of any of his books.

November 04, 2016  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Seana: Thanks in re the photo. (And publishers: Pay attention!) This NoirCon was indeed a wonderful event, the best of the five I've attended. The Goodis presentation traced his whereabouts during his time in Los Angeles, complete with musical examples and relevant passages from his books. Goodis knew his jazz.

November 07, 2016  

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