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Boston Noir 2: The Classics (Akashic Noir)…

Boston Noir 2: The Classics (Akashic Noir)

by Dennis Lehane (Editor), Jaime Clarke (Editor), Mary Cotton (Editor)

Other authors: George Harrar (Contributor), George V. Higgens (Contributor), Dennis Lehane (Contributor), Joyce Carol Oates (Contributor), Robert B. Parker (Contributor)3 more, Hannah Tinti (Contributor), Abraham Verghese (Contributor), David Foster Wallace (Contributor)

Series: Akashic Books Noir Series, Boston Noir (2)

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323347,362 (3.92)3



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Enjoyed the Chuck Hogan, Parker, Joyce Carol Oates, Hannah Tinti, Lehane, Barnes, Harrar, most of the stories, actually. Gave me a couple leads to follow up on (hadn't read anything by Kenneth Abel before), and I think that's one of the main jobs of a short story collection. ( )
  mhanlon | Jul 3, 2013 |
Boston has been in the news lately with more than its fair share of bad news. But this East Coast city of the Ivy League and the Brahmin WASP aristocracy has also had a dark underbelly. Everything from the Boston Massacre of 1770 to the Boston Strangler of the 1960s, the town of MIT, Harvard, and the Atlantic, is no stranger to blood, brutality, and death. The Akashic Noir series returns to Bean Town with Boston Noir 2: the Classics, edited by Dennis Lehane, Mary Cotton, and Jaime Clarke. In a bloody tribute to this great city, Lehane and company have resurrected several out-of-print classics and pushed the meaning of noir into peculiar places.

The anthology is a rogues gallery of literary heavy hitters. Joyce Carol Oates gives us an occult tale of Gilded Age Boston. Written originally in 1977, the short story reads like an extended riff on "The Turn of the Screw." There are stories by Robert B. Parker, Dennis Lehane, George V. Higgins, Andre Dubus, and the late David Foster Wallace. Excepting a portion of Wallace's gigantic tome Infinite Jest, we follow two ex-junkies as they wander around the Brighton neighborhood. Wallace intersperses flashbacks that become scenes of simultaneous gut-wrenching sadness and gut-busting hilarity. The farcical-tragic tone is buried beneath Wallace's trademark manic prose and the inevitable footnotes.

Because of recent events, Robert B. Parker's short story "Surrogate" has added menace. Set in Watertown, where the surviving Tsarnaev brother was cornered and eventually captured, the story involves impotence, rape, and revenge.

"Townies" by Andre Dubus is about a murder of a college girl. The first half has a lonely campus security guard narrate his discovery. Both voyeuristic and pathetic, we witness a husk of a man enact a masquerade of daily duties. The second half is about the drunken college lout who murders the girl. I'd have mentioned spoilers earlier, but the story isn't about solving a mystery in the conventional sense. With an unsettling and spare prose style, Dubus delves into the greater mystery of the male psyche in the modern age. Civilization nothing but a thin veneer covering a slavering beast beneath. The short story has a haunted quality of the marginal characters stumbling around Beckett Country.

Besides these short stories, the editors reprint rare classics from George V. Higgins, the author of The Friends of Eddie Coyle, and Barbara Neely, who has written mystery stories about an African-American domestic as the protagonist. Neely's novel, Blanche Cleans Up, is a fun whodunit, but also a fantastic meditation on race and class in modern America.

For those unfamiliar with Greater Boston and its literary heritage, Boston Noir 2: the Classics is a great place to start. And like the bar where everyone knows your name, you'll meet familiar faces and new ones.

Out of 10/9.0



http://driftlessareareview.com/2013/05/10/cclap-fridays-boston-noir-2-the-classi... ( )
  kswolff | May 10, 2013 |
Although I have lived much of my adult life outside WBZ’s signal coverage, I still claim “Civis Bostoniensis sum” since the taxpayers thereof invested so much money and effort in my classical education on Avenue Louis Pasteur [for non-Bostonians: WBZ, Channel 4, was one of the three VHF stations during the 1950s and ‘60s; Boston Latin School -- the oldest public school in the country -- is housed on Avenue Louis Pasteur in the Fenway].

During an anti-Agnew demonstration I had my skull cracked near the corner on which Robert Parker’s Spenser had his first office and grew up with people who could populate a Higgins novel. Tourist shots make me mimsy although the city of my raising was more cold, dark, and gritty than sunlight and swept.

Thus I looked forward to the arrival of Boston Noir 2. Dennis Lehane, Mary Cotton, and Jaime Clarke have assembled a tasty sampler of crime and sudden death in Winthrop’s City upon a Hill during the third quarter of its fourth century.

Chuck Hogan’s The Marriage Privilege started well but felt rushed at the end, as if the author noticed his word count and needed to wrap up in some arbitrary limit.

I would not class Joyce Carol Oates’ Night-Side as noir. While a very good occult psychological, it however lacks the criminality of noir. Similarly, George Harrar’s The 5:22 and Jason Brown’s Driving the Heart are diverting but lack the requisite criminality.

Hannah Tinti’s Home Sweet Home gives a nice twist on domestic tragedy.

I imagine the Spenser novels happening sequentially (unless Parker specified otherwise); thus Surrogate would fall somewhere between A Savage Place and Ceremony. As ever, the situation and resolution are extreme, the characters well drawn and the telling masterful.

George V Higgins initially meant that mystery fiction didn’t have to be set in New York, Los Angeles, or San Francisco; because of duende, I later fell in love with the precision of his diction. The Balance of the Day nails the tribalism underlying the granite.

Dennis Lehane looks around his native Dorchester in Mushrooms and catches the numbing banality of urban violence.
Other bon bons (notably Barbara Neely’s excerpt Blanche Cleans Up and Andre Dubus’ Townies) also divert. ( )
  tomspisak | Oct 15, 2012 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Lehane, DennisEditorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Clarke, JaimeEditormain authorall editionsconfirmed
Cotton, MaryEditormain authorall editionsconfirmed
Harrar, GeorgeContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Higgens, George V.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Lehane, DennisContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Oates, Joyce CarolContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Parker, Robert B.Contributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Tinti, HannahContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Verghese, AbrahamContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Wallace, David FosterContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
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Edited by three acclaimed genre authors, a second volume of classic short fiction reprints includes pieces by such leading writers as Joyce Carol Oates, Robert B. Parker and David Foster Wallace.

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