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Double Trouble

Thursday, July 05, 2007
John Rickards has had a few... issues in the past. I'm speaking now of his issues with the covers that his publisher has seen fit to slap on his books. Not once, but twice, his publisher has selected the exact same stock photograph as another recent crime novel.

And now it's happened again:

Personally I preferred John's second choice for the tagline: "So, you were just going to leave me up there, then?" Hopefully this new brouhaha will prompt John to get off his ass and post the "Compleat Hardboiled Jesus" to his new site. There's a new HJ story in the latest Out of the Gutter, so John's actually getting paid for writing this stuff.

In other news: The new issues of Spinetingler Magazine and ThugLit are now on-line. You would already know this, of course, if you'd been reading the indispensible Crime Zine Report. This time out Spinetingler features stories by the likes of James R. Winter and Stephen D. Rogers (natch), plus fine stories by a bunch of writers I'm not familiar with. ThugLit has stories by Nathan Cain, Hugh Lessig (who's been on a roll lately), and four others.

The New Black. There's been a lot of discussion and even argument about neo-Noir lately. Like most arguments, it was started by Kevin Burton Smith (yeah, that's a cheap shot. Sorry). While most of the responses seem to take issue with Kevin's feelings that much modern noir is rife with gratuitous violence, the part of his essay that resonated with me was his argument that the little guy isn't represented in new Noir fiction.

I personally happen to enjoy stories that feature real people doing things that people can really do. For this reason I'm a fan of Bill Pronzini, for example. Too much modern crime fiction focuses on crime lords, evil geniuses, FBI hotshots, etc. What ever happened to the dockworker whose brother was a small-time thief? I think that this change in perspective moves noir into the realm of escapism, away from its roots in social realism (George Pelecanos is the most prominent current practitioner of that).

Although Kevin only touched on it, I believe that noir is now more of a style that can be applied to just about any plot and any collection of characters, which wasn't true when it first evolved. I'll leave it to others to decide if that's a good thing or a bad thing. While I myself prefer the originals I would never run down current fiction just because it doesn't hew to the classical line. As we say here in the South, that's why they make chocolate and vanilla.

posted by Graham Powell at 11:13 AM