Monday, June 10, 2013

Noir: Not My Style

The Big Sleep is a book my friend Mark had me borrow. I decided to try it, even though this is not a genre I have great interest in. Perhaps this influenced my opinion of the book? I have developed almost an annoyance with how I often encounter noir. When watching a show that runs for over 2 seasons it seems the writers decide they can do a lazy version of noir that does nothing for the storyline of their show. Noir is often badly inserted into the show(people randomly knocked out and dream in noir). As a result, I get frustrated, and have developed a general dislike for noir. I would agree that perhaps this is not real noir, but it is what I'm most often exposed to. I do not like it. Probably the most successful were the writers of the office that used a Michael Scarn movie, a cross between noir and 007. It was presented in a way that was meant to be funny, and actually advanced the plot. I was pleasantly surprised.

Enough ranting about bad noir. Even if my feelings toward noir influenced my opinion, I did not like this book. I thought the book was a little disjointed. This might be the result of the author combining some of his short stories to make a novel. It was also one of his earliest pieces, and my understanding is that some of his later works are better.

The plot follows a P.I. as he investigates a blackmail case for a rich old man and his 2 daughters. There were some amusing lines in the book, but that was not enough for me to like it. Unfortunately, this book didn't hold my attention, and it was more of a chore to read than a joy.

I do appreciate the idea that the author did a lot for this genre, and I think that's great. But, this book was not for me. I would be interested in hearing what people thought about this book that are more familiar with this genre, and with the author.


  1. I enjoy classic noir (par example, The Maltese Falcon) but agree with you re: noir of the small-screen. Disappointing to hear that combining the short stories didn't work out in this case; I find that an intriguing style of writing in general.

    1. I did enjoy the Maltese Falcon. I only saw the film with Bogart, I haven't read it. The combining of short stories could have gone a lot better. Do you have any particular titles in this genre you would recommend?

  2. Basically anything by Carroll John Daly or Dashiell Hammett. Chandler is the third really quintessentially hard-boiled noir author, known for having refined the genre in his later works (but I admit I haven't read a full-length novel of his, just stories as included in anthologies).
    Or, if you prefer contemporary pieces, I'd go with the "Girl With The Dragon Tattoo" series, although Nordic Noir is a distinct sub-genre.