Friday, September 17, 2010
Interview with Otto Penzler in Library Journal
Ed here: Very interesting interview with Otto Penzler from Library Journal.
Q&A: Otto Penzler on The Best American Noir of the Century
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By Mike Rogers Sep 16, 2010
Otto Penzler is a household name to mystery lovers. Editor, publisher, bookshop owner, and mystery aficionado extraordinaire, he is the driving force behind two new volumes, The Black Lizard Big Book of Black Mask Stories, a collection of vintage hard-boiled mysteries, and The Best American Noir of the Century, coedited with James Ellroy. Most readers mistakenly interchange hard-boiled with noir, but Penzler contends they're different animals. LJ's Mike Rogers, a hard-boiled and noir man himself, probed Penzler about what really defines noir and more. [See also "Otto Penzler's Future Masters of Noir."—Ed.]
What's your definition of noir?
Like art, love, and pornography, noir is hard to define, but you know it when you see it. For the purposes of the book and my longtime working understanding and definition of it, noir stories are bleak, existential, alienated, pessimistic tales about losers-people who are so morally challenged that they cannot help but bring about their own ruin.
The French may have coined it, but is noir fiction really an American thing?
I think the Germans invented film noir as a visual style. The French gave it a name. But the Americans created the fiction, mostly finding its roots in the despair and casual or desperate criminality of the lower classes during the Great Depression.
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