Monday, December 19, 2011

Noir with a touch of mischief

Some of your favored sensual experiences are solitary in nature.  This does by no means suggest you believe they are best experienced while your are alone, rather that however tempting it might be to add something, say a hooker of Crème de Cacao or a shot of rum to a pile off superb chocolate ice cream, the chocolate ice cream is a sufficiency unto itself.  Ditto with cognac, and an entire laundry list of gustatory experiences, including watermelon, cherries, and a deft sauté of kale.

Other things do work well in combination, baked beans and brown bread coming to mind as well as the more conventional yet still iconic bacon and eggs.

You have read with enjoyment novels set in the historical past, a fact whereby you can admit to enjoying historical fiction.  You absolutely admire contemporary mystery/suspense/crime novels, each as stand alone representatives of their genre, yet you have no objection to an artful marriage, thus the historical suspense or mystery, Mr. Wilkie Collins being an excellent executor of this form.

This is all backdrop for the shotgun wedding within your own psyche when it comes to the noir, suitably bleak or dark story, shot through with the zany tropes you might discover in any Marx Brothers film epic.  Noir and zany seem to have a natural pull on your attentions, reminding you of two kids competing for the attentions of their mother.

In a way, this blend of opposites has established squatter’s rights on many of your works, arriving in such force at one point in your career—early thirties—that you were concerned about never being able to write your way through it.  The chemistry was so persistent that your concerns centered on your never being to cut free of it, thus goodbye meaningful writing career.

Your work has evolved to the point where you might be said to have written your way through it, but there is nothing evidentiary to back up this thesis with data.  You in fact have not written your way through the persistent sense of mischief that emerges at the drop of a serious paragraph.  The mischief seems to always be there.  

Mischief was surely present for moments, hours on end, while you developed the dramatic vectors of the short story,” Love will make you drink and gamble, stay out late at night,” which title was taken from a well-known blues that may be sung by a male or female voice.  The presence was so strong that you were put in mind of a trope from Chaucer’s The Miller’s Tale, “a world full tickle.”

In a strong sense, you take your noir from Dashiell Hammett, those wonderful Continental Op stories, and such novellas as The Gutting of Couffingal, and The Red Harvest, while taking your mischief from any number of The Canterbury Tales, particularly the portion where a character likely modeled after Chaucer himself is interrupted in his narration, to be told “No more, for godde’s word/Thy drasty rhyming is not worth a turd.”

Given the extravagant number of writers whose works you admire, and a considerable-but-not-extensive number of writers whose works you do not admire, you would think to have an easy time with your own conflation of the noir and mischievous aspects of narrative, but it is not easy in that sense, being you, which means you have found the ideal writing comfort zone, the un-comfort zone.  If composition is comfortable, you will be tempted to dawdle, do boyish things.  If it is too noir, it is likely to be so because you are fulminating, ranting, and how do you make a verb out of screed?  Do you say screeding?  If it is too mischievous, Captain Spaulding steals all your scenes and the zanies will have won the day.

You have arrived at what you are by practice and misdirection.  The state is not comfortable because it might veer out of control at any given moment, but when all is said, done, and edited, the results are you and they are fun, which is about as noir as you can get.


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