It’s not true that I’ve gone to the Cozy side, but sometimes it does appear that way, huh.
Take for instance these five on my current #TBR pile. It would appear at least four are cozy, and you’d be part right. Obviously, however, Bad Time to be In It by David Burnsworth is a Blu Carraway mystery, actually classified by Amazon as “hard-boiled.” You may remember I used that term in the discussion on Family Noir.
That would leave three with the cozy, women sleuth, and amateur sleuth designation, because (**surprise**) Soufflé of Suspicion by Daryl Wood Gerber has the additional distinction of also being classified as culinary. (Do you see more recipes in my future? The cover even SAYS “Includes Recipes.” But Nope!)
I really do enjoy a cozy mystery or two, particularly between heavier genres, such as the Irish historical fiction I recently reviewed or the sci-fi, or even the hysterically funny, campy, and definitely unique Ray vs the Meaning of Life by Michael F Stewart. If you missed it, see my review here.
At most, there may be a conceived pattern. If you detect the upcoming pattern is filled with food or decadent desserts, it would appear that food or desserts are a necessary ingredient for the genre. But please, no more recipes for me, unless it includes a pleasing classic cocktail.
In defense of my obvious decrease in reviews this month, I’ll mention I was inexplicably inspired to write several articles regarding bookish (Family Noir) conundrums or publishing algorithms (the 1200 lb Gorilla), the last post of which included Sunday’s hesitant but fascinating introduction into Circular Gallifreyan. Before you protest that it is not a “constructed language,” I’ll agree that it probably isn’t as I couldn’t find any classification linked to the character-driven concept in any of the pages or websites I read. Remember this?
I waited all month to get my struggling seedings out and then almost immediately had frost. As always, too anxious. What can I say? I’m from California where we started seeds directly outdoors in February. Checking my fairy garden daily for any indication my plants made it through the winter–they didn’t–although I’ve been told it’s still a little early. It’s MAY! Having chopped down snags and trunks took advantage of the sunny, warm and beautiful weather today, and got out the old saw and put the fire pit to work. I have high hopes for the vegetable and flower bed this year. And bonus–both the rose bush and forsythia made it through the winter, thank heaven as DH (Dear Hubby) covered the other plants and they will apparently remain buried (I can’t find them).
We had a week-long visit from our grandchildren and together with our son who works and knows Chicago very well took us on a whirlwind sightseeing experience that crammed as much as we could in a week. We walked ten miles one day to include the Navy Pier, the Bean (see above), the Art Institute of Chicago, and the Willis Tower (formerly Sears Tower). On other days we toured the Field Museum and Shedd Aquarium each requiring most of the day. (Yes, I’m exhausted.)
Absolutely outstanding world-class museum and the Art Institute houses an impressive number of masters including Van Gogh, Monet, El Greco, Picasso, Warhol and every imaginable form of art from early medieval and renaissance to impressionism. Love the Monet’s!
So, life happens along with reading and reviewing and sometimes it is the latter that takes the hit–only five reviews in April–with more read but due for review in May. (These links will take you to my review.)
The CE reviewed three titles as well, one of which is due for a blog blast the middle of May. Additionally, I’ll be participating in blog tours, spotlights, and giveaways in May. I’m thrilled and excited to be participating in giveaways and I’m eager to see the response.
Remember back in December 2015 when I investigated all these new-to-me genres? Nano-punk, nano-technology, or cyber-punk?
Well, it’s happened again. A number of bloggers I follow have reviewed stories recently they’ve categorized as “Noir.” If it sounds French, it is, and means “dark” or “of the night.” It is usually a genre that deals with violence or sex, but definitely corruption in some manner. (BTW, noire is just feminine for noir, but you knew that, huh.)
Yes, I remember film noir, but “classic” (or roman) noir is considered a “hardboiled” genre that usually includes a self-destructive protagonist. I’m not writing the rules here, only relaying what I found in research–and it’s not pretty folks. Although I must say, we’ve definitely done a number on the original noir fiction spawned from Dashiell Hammett( 1894-1961) “the dean of the… ‘hardboiled’ school of detective fiction.” The protagonist is not a rumpled, raincoat cloaked, cigar-chomping thoughtful-hearted protagonist, but rather a perpetrator. Forget Columbo! Think Humphrey Bogart. No, much worse. Think Kevin Spacey in LA Confidential. But there is a huge difference in the definition of “noir” and what we are calling forms of noir today.
Harking back to the Huff Post updated in December 2017 by Otto Penzlerwho didn’t mince words when he described the genre, “noir is about losers,” not private detectives.This is the down and dirty–doesn’t do well and never will. The protagonist in a noir story is driven by just about everything bad a human can exhibit: greed, lust, jealousy. They aren’t ever going to triumph. They can’t! (It’s noir.) And this is what separates the private detective or family noir from noir fiction–the moral ground.
The problem then, as Noir Fiction has splintered off as many sub-genres as the previously discussed fiction novels, is the evolution. Here are just a few:
I think it was the Scandinavian noir that set me to scratching my head. A Scandi noir? Certainly, it was the film industry that influenced the change of the hardboiled nuance into a neo-noir flavor. Definitely a contemporary or more modern version of film noir, the term neo-noir was popularized by two French critics back in 1955. It appears these were retro-actively applied to much earlier crime movies including the 1940s as well as the 1950s in the U.S. (Think Bogey)
It was Hammett who created Sam Spade in The Maltese Falcon after a character he knew living in San Francisco. His authentic period dialogue was included in the movie famously played by Humphrey Bogart.
Raymond Chandler? Really? Because if you were surprised by Hammett’s life dates, Chandler is right there, born in 1888 and died in 1959. Wikipedia notes he began writing after losing his job as an oil company executive. He published a short story in Black Mask Magazine, a pulp magazine in 1933. (First issue April 1920-final issue 1987) Along with Dashiell Hammett and other Black Mask writers, he is considered to be a founder of the hardboiled detective fiction. Philip Marlowe, his protagonist, was also played by the quintessential Humphrey Bogart. He said of the hardboiled detective, “he is the white knight who walks the mean streets, but is not himself mean.”
Cinematically, Lee Marvin cemented the neo-noir style of film when he starred in Point Blank (1967), introducing a new level of violence in film and established the foundation for later escalation of ferocity and brutality.
I suspect there would be some argument over whether the film Pulp Fiction is actually pulp noir or film noir. Jessica Jones – pulp noir? Where would you classify any of the dark noir books (Gone Girl) (or movies) that you’ve read (seen) lately?
But really, a family noir? OMG–it’s gotta be sad, depressing, and can never be made right.
I don’t need it.
I want peaceful.
I want happy–if not happily ever after–a light at the end of the tunnel. Some small promise it’ll be okay.