Saturday, April 17, 2010
I think a deep love of story is what initially drew me to the world of hardboiled/noir fiction. Of all the literary genres, this is the one with the best stories. Why is that? Because they are the closest in spirit to the earliest stories we know of, the Greek dramas.
The best noir stories are our modern day version of those tragedies. The parallels are obvious: they are usually plot-driven, involving characters who make bad decisions and by doing so set in motion the machinations of their own destruction.
The plot becomes a clockwork mechanism and the protagonist becomes entangled in the gears of it, struggling to get free. Every action he takes succeeds only in hastening the machine. He may get free in the end, but it’s unlikely.
The differences between, say, the works of Sophocles and Ken Bruen are a matter of costume and set design, togas and trench-coats. The overlying theme is the same: free will is an illusion, and once the game is in play there’s no leaving the table. You gotta pay the piper.
Oh, and also, there’s no chorus in a noir. Usually.