Thursday, May 09, 2013

Five Noir Lessons from Charles Williams by Ray Banks

From the Mysterious  Press website

Ray Banks:

Bill Crider once said that "there's no such thing as a bad Charles Williams novel". Even though I've yet to finish Williams' 22-strong bibliography, I'm inclined to agree. More than that, I'd argue that Charles Williams was one of the best (if not the best), and certainly the most consistent, of the Gold Medal boys.
But while the other heroes of the paperback, like Jim Thompson or David Goodis, have been reappraised, republished and canonised, Williams remains sorely underrated and—until now—largely out of print. It's a pity, because out of all of the 50s noir novelists, Charles Williams should be a major influence on modern noir, a subgenre which can sometimes feel choked with cinematic cliché and sophomore nihilism. 
Williams has plenty to teach the aspiring noir novelist, and even more to offer those of us who may feel that noir has reached the limits of self-parody. And so here, for your delectation and amazement, are five noir lessons to be learned from the work of Charles Williams.

Experience is essential.

Confession time: I have absolutely zero interest in sailing, swamp fishing, hunting or amateur edaphology. Caveat time: I have absolutely zero interest in the aforementioned subjects unless Charles Williams is writing about them, because this is a man who knows what he's talking about and who keeps his exposition to the point.
Williams was an author whose experience was lived rather than learned—his first novel Hill Girl wasn't published until he was 42 years old, after twenty years as both a Merchant Marine and a radio engineer. As a result, what could have been a sub-par Erskine Caldwell rip-off displays an emotional palette far more varied than most debuts. A late start also meant that Williams had his voice—or at least a professionally honed version of it—right out of the gate, which lent a consistency to his follow-up work.

for the rest go here:

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