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No Country- V- Literary genre: Noir fiction. 
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Post No Country- V- Literary genre: Noir fiction.
No Country- V- Literary genre: Noir novel.

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Noir fiction is the name sometimes given to a mode of crime fiction regarded as a subset of the hardboiled style. According to noir aficionado George Tuttle,

In this sub-genre, the protagonist is usually not a detective, but instead either a victim, a suspect, or a perpetrator. He is someone tied directly to the crime, not an outsider called to solve or fix the situation. Other common characteristics...are the emphasis on sexual relationships and the use of sex to advance the plot and the self-destructive qualities of the lead characters. This type of fiction also has the lean, direct writing style and the gritty realism commonly associated with hardboiled fiction.[1]

(...)
The popular use of "noir" in the term "noir fiction" derives immediately from "film noir" as it has been used to characterize certain putatively "dark" Hollywood crime dramas and melodramas, many early examples of which were based on works by the original hardboiled writers. In turn, "noir" (French for "black"), first applied to American films in the mid-1940s by observers in France, was used there in similar senses. Most relevantly, the term roman noir ("black novel") was employed to describe a range of books, some that an English speaker might think of as mysteries, others as gothic melodramas. Note that while the meanings of "noir fiction" and roman noir are closely related, the derivation is not direct. Making the connection even tighter, in 1945 the French publisher Gallimard brought out a new series of paperback thrillers, many of them translations of hardboiled American fiction. The line was called Serie noire.



Wikipediahttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Noir_novel

1- What aspects of No Country make a novel part of noir fiction?


2- Is No Country more than a thriller?


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Wed Mar 19, 2008 10:45 am
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Categorizing art is a bitch. A perfect example is Widkipedia's muddled attempt at defining noir. If the protagonists in noir fiction are not usually detectives does that leave out Chandler and Hammett? But noir is hard-boiled and who is more hard-boiled than Chandler? What's a mystery? What's a police procedural? Can a procedural (like 'the Silence of the Lambs" be noir with no sexy ladies and no hardboiled hero?) Noir does imply mood, sex and a tough guy hero in books as well as film. By that measure this book isn't noir. I prefer the term "crime" because it is a very safe way to categorize books. I owned a small bookstore for a while and that massive "crime" umbrella served me well. I think of this book as "mainstream" fiction because that's what McCarthy does. But at some level it may have to be judged as a crime novel which is unfortunate because by the standards of, well, a county sheriff crime procedural I think it would be very weak. Readers of crime fiction would have to regard these County sheriffs as bumbling idiiots and I doubt if that was Mr. McCarthy's intention (although it may well have been).

I think this book needs to be viewed at the Cosmic level. Let's view it from the stratosphere where we can see all these little insect characters with their mountainous egos behaving as if they can make a difference in the world.

It's too easy to get bogged down in the requirements and boundaries of genre fiction (but I'm doing it as I write).



Wed Mar 19, 2008 11:11 pm
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Kenneth wrote:
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It's too easy to get bogged down in the requirements and boundaries of genre fiction (but I'm doing it as I write)


I agree. I saw the book being called "noir fiction " in several reviews and I thought this could be a useful discussion starting point.

Kenneth, I'll transfer your answer (about Fate and free will) to:

http://www.booktalk.org/post31402.html#31402


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Last edited by Ophelia on Fri Mar 21, 2008 4:52 am, edited 3 times in total.



Thu Mar 20, 2008 1:43 am
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Well, I think the author is willing to suspend plausibility in the day to day nuts and bolts part of the story in order to emphasize big themes. In the quote that you have highlighted I am alluding to the theme of Fate vs. Free Will which is everywhere in the book. Individuals tend to inflate the importance of decisions in their life-- not that they can't be important or even momentous, but in the grand scheme of things the choices we make take place within circumstances that are pre-determined. I think McCarthy sees human beings as tiny specks swept along in the tidal wave of events and history.

Example: Llewelyn Moss makes a momentous decision when he decides to keep the bag containing 2 million dollars. But how many hundreds, thousands, millions of events and circumstances had to take place over numerous lifetimes to put that money under his nose? He may have overslept and not been able to hunt that morning. His wife may have been feeling ill, his truck may have malfunctioned. The drug deal could have been resolved satisfactorily..... a thousand things, completely out of his control, could have kept him out of that Mexican hospital. If the wounded man who begged for water had been shot dead (a bullet one-quarter of an inch to the left or right), Moss would not have returned to the scene-- what then?

The Fate/Free Will theme is not just woven into the story. It is discussed openly between characters in a number of scenes. Maybe it's me, but the word "luck" seems to be all over the place.



Thu Mar 20, 2008 10:07 pm
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Is there a link between No Country, noir novels and existentialism?

I have found a site that discusses Noir novels and existentialism.

Quote:
Clearly, hardboiled and noir crime writers have something in common with the existentialists, and it's probably not an accident that both movements flourished in the aftermath of World War II. Both have a grim view of life as painful and not subject to extrinsic guarantees of justice or fairness. There is no god in an existentialist universe and the only justice one finds is the justice one makes for oneself (if it's even possible to do so, which it isn't always).

But is there more to it than that? What is the connection between existentialism and crime fiction, and how do the two inspire each other? And why is it that fifty years later crime fiction is still going strong while you'd be hard pressed to name a writer who calls himself an existentialst?


For the whole discussion, see:

http://bookclubs.barnesandnoble.com/bn/board/message?board.id=crm&thread.id=6&jump=true


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Fri Mar 21, 2008 7:02 am
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I don't really get that 'noir fiction' thing - dark fiction . . . well, it's pretty bloody and violent.

From my understanding of what 'noir fiction' is, I gotta' say no - it's just a very violent crime story that's been made interesting even to non-crime readers by way of characterization, dialogue, etc.

I rarely lean toward violent stories, but I liked this.

I have a feeling I might not enjoy the movie though. We'll see.

I do know one thing - I am going to be reading more of Cormac McCarthy!



Tue Jul 29, 2008 3:32 am
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