I keep pecking away at this longer post about hardboiled detective, criminal and heist stories and film noir. And every time I start I don’t know when to stop or the beginning feels off beat. I don’t know how to quite describe my current, and often recurring, obsession with this particular tone of story telling. And that’s the only way I can describe it, as a tone, because it arches across some of my favorite movies, television, books, comics, and music.
The late nights, being alone at 2 a.m. on the 19th in a building downtown with police scanners going off, sparked it this go round for sure. The job and odd hours got me all in this mode of thinking where I have Tom Waits and Soul Coughing on loop in my iPod, and where I stop what I’m doing to hear “A Girl like You,” by Edwyn Corwin when heard on Slacker Radio.
I also couldn’t help myself and started reading a couple comic books, or graphically illustrated stories if you prefer. “Criminal” by Ed Brubaker is superb right now. The current arch is a riff on nostalgia and murder and choices made. Ah, who am I kidding, it’s in part about a dissatisfied adult Archie knocking off his wife Veronica to make a second chance with the Betty he passed up. Sounds sort of lame as I describe it, but completely enthralling as boiler plate crime fiction when read (Author Ed Brubaker, mentions Patricia Highsmith, author of Strangers on a Train and The Talented Mr. Ripley, in the same breath as well for inspiration in this story arch. I’d definitely recommend clicking on the link to Brubaker’s interview to learn at least a little more.)
Then there are the adaptations of Richard Stark’s (aka Donald Westlake) series of Parker novels by acclaimed illustrator, Darwyn Cooke, to graphic novel form. Fine, fine reading and beautifully illustrated. Very violent. Totally engrossing and well worth its price tag for a comic, or graphic novel, if you will. Parker: The Hunter, is basically Payback if you’ve seen the film adaptation, but way better. It’s one guy, a professional thief by trade, exacting revenge on those who betrayed him during a heist with his bare hands. The story has gobbled up tons of my free time.
But anyway, see what I mean? I haven’t even got into discussing the Maltese Falcon, Double Indemnity, or The Crow (which by the way carries some of the traits of Parker:The Hunter with a layer of mysticism and if Parker were a good guy, atl all) that I’ve re-watched. We’ll get to that, and others soon though, because I hope there are others out there into this type of stuff that might recommend more and feed this need for bare knuckled fiction.
Oh, and of course running (which these hardboiled protagonist tend to do as well). Lots of running, because I’ve been back to obsessing over that too.