Monday, June 03, 2013

The great Charlie Stella comments on last night's post

Rough Riders Cover

Charlieopera has left a new comment on your post "Noir: The Marxist Art Form BY BARRY GRAHAM": 

“Both book and film show criminals as working stiffs, and so get to the real heart of the crime story.”
I can't tell you how many street guys I used to pal/work with were nothing more than working stiffs (myself included) ... guys looking to pay their mortgages/rents/send their kids to a baseball game/buy Christmas presents/pay for 2 (or 3) households, etc ... some had other options, most didn’t. They could eat shit from some company (via middle management, etc.) or they could take a risk (somebody say entrepreneur?) and do whatever they had to do ... almost none of those guys wanted to climb the crime ladder (become made guys or anything else that brought on exposure) ... many (like myself) were working 2nd legit jobs (or their criminal activities were 2nd jobs--but remember, hawking hats and umbrellas without a permit/license is considered criminal activity and I knew plenty of guys and gals doing exactly that on the street to earn enough to make their nut) ... I had a union job for 10 years, but when my first marriage fell apart and I had to provide for 2 (and later 3 households, because my old man stopped paying my mother), I worked 2 and often 3 legit jobs and could barely make ends meet (working 7 days a week will burn you out faster than you think, and it will leave you one angry MF’er). It wasn’t rocket science for me to head where the money was. Once I could earn on the street, the chip I already had on my shoulder grew (as regards working in the legit world). My first novel, Eddie’s World, is mostly fiction ... except the guy who gets fired (for a different reason than in the novel) decides to take some robin hood revenge (because the owner was an arrogant piece of work and Eddie had the balls to and desire to put one up the arrogant SOB’s ass). Eddie’s legit job was word processing ... enough said.

Once I left the crime side of things (and the money--and it was a very tough adjustment financially), I returned to a slave situation (it is what it is). I don’t kid myself ... if/when I leave this job, I have to find another just like it. That’s what I’m free to do.

Nobody in America should be shocked at what people do to survive. We continue to allow 1% of the population to gather OUR collective wealth off OUR backs, and yep, shit’ll happen. And, yes, literary fiction is just another genre (no matter who says it isn’t) ... and as much as I enjoyed Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom, it wasn’t what I’d call a general reflection of America. Franzen himself claimed “it's possible you are freer if you accept what you are and just get on with being the person you are, than if you maintain this kind of uncommitted I'm free-to-be-this, free-to-be-that, faux freedom” ... yeah, right, exactly ... in a capitalist economic system, the vast majority of us are free to be slaves.

Scalisi, et al, in Eddie Coyle were after big scores that might allow them to coast for a few years (to be hedge fund managers?) ... Eddie was looking to pay his mortgage and to stay out of the joint (so he could continue to pay his mortgage) ... I don’t know many hedge fund managers, but I continue to know many more in Eddie Coyle’s economic situation (behind the eight ball), even if they aren’t aware of it yet.

Many crime novels offer a more accurate depiction of America today (whether they intended to or not) than does much of literary fiction (probably why I enjoy (and am rereading again) something like Last Exit to Brooklyn) and have yet to reread Franzen. 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It's simple math, isn't it?
You're poor, you see something you need (food, rent, clothes perhaps), you get it somehow or sink into despair.
Moralizers can talk morality all they wish, it's not relevant.
Capitalism is a big time crime opp for the fortunate. Drugs, burglary, strong arm robbery, even rape are what's left.
Right on, Mr. Stella.