What this is and why I did it
I've long been a fan of noir literature in all its forms and most recently of rural noir. Known by many names (e.g. redneck noir, country noir, hillbilly noir), the genre is exciting and intriguing. This brief personal essay – about 26 pages, or 6900 words – describes my journey as I tried to get acquainted with some contemporary rural fiction writers who've been given the noir label.
My essay is not comprehensive of the field. I certainly haven't met up yet with all the writers working in this area. Please send me suggestions. However, it does offer a quick and easy entry to some of the literature and many of the issues surrounding the use and misuse of that label "redneck noir."
This version is an updated, revision. It includes consideration of another six writers I hadn't read yet when I published the 1st edition.
If you're new to the subject it will offer you an entry point. If you're already well read, you're probably aware of the writers I mention. But I think this essay might help debunk the current marketing stupidity that says "If you're country, you're noir."
The essay begins at its origins: my friendship with the late John O'Brien, of West Virginia, author of At Home in the Heart of Appalachia (2001).
Another quick but enjoyable read. If I’m not reading myself, I’m probably either looking for a book, thinking about a book, or just as likely on the internet seeing what other people are reading that I then might like myself. In that sense an essay about books and authors that have been tagged redneck, hillbilly or country noir is just up my street.
There’s an interesting chapter on him re-establishing a friendship with a now sadly deceased author, John O’Brien. After which he gets down to throwing around a few names, most of which I have on my shelves already – more unread than read……….Daniel Woodrell, Larry Brown, William Gay, Frank Bill, Donald Ray Pollock, Pinckney Benedict, Bonnie Jo Campbell, Alan Heathcock.
I have acquired a few more names to check out, more through courtesy of a list Gilmore prints forwarded to him by a librarian friend. Gilmore, himself seems a bit dismissive of the list – to me he’s a wee bit obsessive over labelling and pigeon-holing. Me, I’m a fan of the “if you like A, maybe you’ll like B” recommendation thing. I’d rather have a list of 20 books that I might like 3 from, than no list.
We all seek different things in our reading and perhaps Gilmore’s reading tastes are a little bit more refined than my own. Worth the price of the admission anyway.
Gilmore himself is a bookseller and author and has published a couple of things including a novel Malcolm’s Wine which has a few decent reviews of Amazon. Maybe I’ll try it one day.
Other names picked up – Breece D’J Pancake, Rick Gavin, Dayne Sherman and Scott Sparling…. I’m away now to check them out.
4 from 5
Bought earlier this week from Amazon (Cheers – MSJ!)