Aug 102013

I’ve been reading some stuff on my Kindle, mainly stuff I’ve picked free from Amazon, new gritty and noirish crime fiction from both side of Atlantic. I’ve liked a lot some of the stuff I’ve acquired, for instance JuarĂ©z Dance by Sam Hawken and Tony Black’s bleak novella The Storm Without (of which I didn’t do a blog post). I also liked Lawrence Block’s short story “Keller on the Spot” quite a bit.

But I’ve recently dropped two novels by new noir writers I was reading on Kindle. The other one was sloppily written and edited, and the other one had ridiculous characters and the police work depicted in the book wasn’t believable. I was going to post a review of the books, but then I got to thinking I wouldn’t be doing much of a service to the writers and their publishers (the other one of the two writers has just a book out from a small publisher working actively in the neo-noir business). Then I got to thinking that as a critic that’s just what I should be doing: pointing out what these writers and their publishers are not doing very well and keeping readers out of the bad or mediocre stuff, but then I got to thinking again and then I decided not to post.

What do you think? I’m really an outsider in these circles, since I’m essentially a foreigner to all American, British and Scottish writers mining this area, but then again, someone might benefit from my point of view.

 Posted by at 7:43 pm
Feb 132012

Question for the group mind: can you think and name any examples of misanthropy in crime fiction, classic, hardboiled or other? I should be writing an essay on the subject, but can’t come up with enough examples, though I think Jim Thompson (especially Pop. 1280 and The Killer Inside Me) and Patricia Highsmith (Tom Ripley!) are essentials. What about Charles Willeford? Isn’t a book like The Woman Chaser misanthropic?

Someone suggested Andrew Vachss, but he seems to have an ethos that the innocent can and should be saved. There’s of course lots of nihilistic neo-nah (the phrase coined by Kevin Burton Smith), but I haven’t really sampled those. I’m not sure, though, whether mere nihilism is enough. Misanthropy is more of a philosophical stance, whereas nihilism seems more like a juvenile attempt to be tough and rough.

Any ideas? I’m not really sure if I can do this (the idea wasn’t mine to begin with), but if there are enough examples I’m willing to try. I appreciate any thoughts on the subject. If there’s a book on the subject, or even an essay, I’d really like to hear about it.

 Posted by at 8:42 am