From: Lou Bank (email@example.com)
Hi, Nicola! I saw that in your description of Stay, you referred to the “hard-boiled moral conviction worthy of Andrew Vachss.” So I thought maybe you enjoyed his writing. If that’s the case, you might want to know that his 18th and *final* Burke novel, ANOTHER LIFE, will be released December 30. More information at http://www.vachss.com. Thanks!
I didn’t say that, my publisher, Nan A. Talese, did in the flap copy of the original hardcover edition. I don’t generally compare my work to anyone else’s. Writers need egos the size of the planet; I’m no exception. I think Aud is sui generis.
I enjoyed the first two Burke novels I read but felt reluctant to continue. This is no reflection on Mr. Vachss’ skill–he’s very good indeed at what he does–but an indicator of my taste. I find it difficult to read book after book about the violence done to children. Burke’s world and worldview are rather grim and the tone monochromatic, full of that city chiaroscuro beloved of noir film and fiction.
This is one of the areas where I’ve disagreed with Aud’s various publishers and editors. They call The Blue Place, Stay, and Always noir. (For a lengthy rant on the subject read this blog post, which begins: Being mis/labelled is an occupational hazard for a novelist. I shrug, think, Well, that’s marketing for ya, and move on. But for some reason I seem to get bent out of shape when people describe the Aud books as noir. I’ve been trying to figure out why. I think it has something to do with love…) I see the Aud books as lush, textured, colourful novels about life. Yes, they’re also crime fiction, yes, the language is spare–but the world (Aud’s interior landscape and the physical milieu through which she moves) isn’t.
12 thoughts on “Andrew Vachss”
If noir is about the dark of the city (or whatever)– Aud is white ice.
She’s the kind of ice with colours in it: violet, azure, pale pale green…
I’ve only read The Blue Place (the others are on order), but I’m shocked that you don’t consider it noir. Or at least, noir-ish. I loved it because of that. It’s Noir for Girls. only, that sounds *really* trite and that’s not how I meant that, at all. it’s noir with a vagina… (that sounds… also not… anyway) it was beautiful noir, and I did not know that existed. So thank you for opening that door. >>I *do* understand that you wouldn’t want to pigeon-hole your book though.
Defining noir is, to put it mildly, difficult. But if I’m allowed to add my two cents to the discussion, then no, I wouldn’t call the Aud novels noir. Noir, at least to me, is based in a nihilist world view; the emphasis in noir films and fiction is on loss: of love, of hope, of dreams. The quintessential noir author, Cornell Woolrich, at his death left a notebook which contained, among other things, a suggested title for a story never written: “First you dream, then you die”; that, I believe, encapsulates the noir sense of life. (And of course noir doesn’t have to be set in the crime fiction mold; two of the best neo-noir movies, in my opinion, are “Midnight Cowboy” and “The Fabulous Baker Boys”. Which are both also very different in mood from the Aud novels.)
Whatever the Aud books are, they’re undoubtedly kick-arse.>>That’s my completely non-academic opinion. >>BTW, I added some pics on our View of One’s Own page that illustrate how quickly 2.5 feet of snow can melt if exposed to 5 days of 50+ degree temperatures. Jennifer, I think my computer fritzed and added one picture twice. Sorry, folks.
Noir is all about loss and there is certainly loss in your books,especially The Blue Place and Stay. Aud was ambushed by grief. It’s how she dealt that drew me in.
I’m going to be one of the confused people again. The whole issue of genre fiction vs. “literary” is new to me, and defining which works are noir and which ones are yellow is even more challenging and confusing to this karina. I didn’t even know most of the Latin American stuff I read was “magic realism,” since I didn’t delve into literary criticism or research authors or scrutinized the book flaps for terms and comparisons. I’m just a story junkie. >>A few months ago, we got a call for submissions @ one of my UBC workshops. They wanted noir, so I did some research. I think Aud may at least enjoy a close encounter with < HREF="http://www.litencyc.com/php/stopics.php?rec=true&UID=1125" REL="nofollow">this definition of literary noir by Lee Horsley<>.>><>“Like high art,” James Sallis writes, “these stories…unfold the lies society tells us and the lies we tell ourselves.” <> >>There’s also < HREF="http://www.ikonenmagazin.de/rezension/noir_thriller.htm" REL="nofollow">this review<> of Horsley’s <>Crime Files: The Noir Thriller.<> >>As I said, I’m confused and not too preoccupied with setting myself straight *smile*. I don’t really care about labels as long as I like what I read. Another of the advantages of buying fiction online: I don’t even have to know what the books are being shelved as to find them.
fleegan, I think a little shock is good for a person :)>>john-henri, barbara, noir about loss? Perhaps. For me it’s mostly about being trapped. It’s the horror fiction of the crime genre.>>karina: social crisis and depression? Aud doesn’t fit that. Victim of circumstance? Nope. Entrapment? Nope. Aud just really, really isn’t noir in theme at all. No no no.
I take so much delight in your <>No no no<>‘s. Okay, I’ve read a few stories with beauty and love in them that people still call noir. But I’m always confused, so I won’t trust my classification system—hey, I organize books according to which authors I think would like to party together. I trust you: Aud is no work of noir, she’s a work of love. ;-)
Not that it isn’t fun talking about our enjoyment of the Aud triogy but what about Vachss? I, too, read his early work, dark and dangerous and seemingly true to the street life of children. But somewhere along the way, I began to realize that his novels were becoming increasingly voyeristic. And it seems to me, like putting yourself into the mind of a criminal so that you can catch him or her, that that was what his novels were now all about and thus very negative to read.>>On the other hand I can’t wait for the next Aud story, even if it comes in the form of a woman named Hild.
If I may add a small comment as another reader of the Aud trilogy, I loved it and never for a moment thought it noir. >>Then again, I have the same problem with film classifications – the subtitled films are meant to be arthouse because of the subtitles, or they’re highbrow because they’re not watered down clichés. Whatever. What I got from Aud was power, expanse, lucidity and kindness (but I guess that’s too oblique for a sales pitch). Thanks for avoiding the genres, Nicola, and good luck with your writing.
<>rhbee1<>, I couldn’t read his stuff after the first two. When I read a well-written novel I really live in it; Burke’s world was not one in which I wanted to live.>><>alexa<>, lucidity and kindness. Yes. Thank you.
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