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Alabama Noir

by Don Noble (Editor)

Other authors: Ace Atkins (Contributor), Marlin Barton (Contributor), D. Winston Brown (Contributor), Kirk Curnutt (Contributor), Tom Franklin (Contributor)11 more, Anita Miller Garner (Contributor), Thom Gossom Jr (Contributor), Winston Groom (Contributor), Anthony Grooms (Contributor), Carolyn Haines (Contributor), Ravi Howard (Contributor), Suzanne Hudson (Contributor), Wendy Reed (Contributor), Michelle Richmond (Contributor), Daniel Wallace (Contributor), Brad Watson (Contributor)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
2913644,956 (4.07)1
"There must be places like Hawaii where the idea of noir would be difficult to accommodate. Sunshine, drinks in a coconut, warm beaches, and leis do not generate the fear, darkness, and despair on which noir thrives. Alabama also has plenty of sunshine, some lovely beaches, and only a few foggy waterfronts where miscreants lurk, but it has been a famously dark place. Americans of a certain age read in their daily papers about the burning of the Freedom Riders' bus in Anniston and about the KKK beating those riders at the Birmingham and Montgomery bus stations in May 1961, with the silent cooperation of law enforcement. Americans actually watched, on the evening news, the German shepherds and fire hoses used on demonstrators in Birmingham and the violence at the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma. These days, Alabama has truly turned a corner on race, but the past will not, should not, and in fact cannot be forgotten. We are aware of the past here on a daily basis . . . The stories [in Alabama Noir] range from the deadly grim to some that are actually mildly humorous. We see desperate behavior on the banks of the Tennessee River, in the neighborhoods of Birmingham, in the affluent suburbs of Mobile, in a cemetery in Montgomery, and even on the deceptively pleasant beaches of the Gulf of Mexico"--… (more)
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Showing 1-5 of 13 (next | show all)
Alabama Noir is another release in the Akashic Noir series of anthologies set in cities, states, and countries of the world. Each edition calls upon a local author to curate and edit the book for their locale. Don Noble has lived in Alabama for fifty years and in addition to writing books, he has a weekly radio show about books that features his own reviews. Could they have chosen a better editor? I doubt it.

Noble organized this collection of short stories around the titles of songs by Tennesee’s native son Hank Williams. They are Cold, Cold Heart, Your Cheating Heart, I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry, and The Angel of Death. The arrangement makes sense and the selection of stories is excellent. Standing out from the rest are “What Brings You Back Home” by Michelle Richmond and “Her Job” by Tom Franklin. The first is a story of revenge, cold and professional revenge but tooted in fury. The second is a heartbreaking story of compassion and mercy. The shock and surprise of “Exhaustion” by Anita Miller Garner in the first story was a wake-up to the reader that this was going to be true noir where story wins the day.

Alabama Noir is an excellent representative of the Akashic Noir series and ranks among the best. Some editors try to expand the meaning and expression of noir by including poetry or plays, some try to stretch it to include more experimental fiction.

I understand the impulse, the desire to remove the genre fiction label, to make it “LITERATURE.” I am more democratic than that and think great literature is defined by the quality of the prose, story, and themes and genre fiction can be fine literature. I remember my book group resisted my suggestion of “Gaudy Night” by Dorothy Sayers because it was just genre fiction. But when we read it (I was persuasive.) they not only loved it, it touched off a great discussion and the realization that by avoiding genre fiction, they are missing out. Readers of Alabama Noir won’t miss out because Don Noble resisted that impulse to show off and focused on bringing great stories.

I received an e-galley of Alabama Noir from the publisher through Edelweiss.

Alabama Noir at Akashic Books
Don Noble interview at Alabama Living

https://tonstantweaderreviews.wordpress.com/2020/08/26/9781617758089/ ( )
  Tonstant.Weader | Aug 26, 2020 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
This is another excellent addition to Akashic Publishing's Noir Series. In face, of the books I've read, this is my favorite. Almost all of the stories are outstanding, and very well written.

[Note: A copy of this book was provided to me by the publisher as a LibraryThing Early Reviewer.] ( )
  lpg3d | May 20, 2020 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I've read several of the Akashic Noir series, and find that they are typically hit and miss, at least when it comes to the "noir" elements. That said, as a southerner myself, I was eagerly anticipating getting into this one, particularly since I have enjoyed the work of many of the authors featured here.

As expected, several of the stories in this volume are bangers (that's a good thing), but there are also a few that I have a hard time reading as noir. "Exhaustion," the opener by Anita Miller Garner, sets the stage well with a rural location, a couple of miscreants out for a quick score, and a grim series of events. Other standouts for me include "The Price of Indulgence" by Carolyn Haines, and Ravi Howard's "The Good Thief". Daniel Wallace's brief "Triptych" almost demands to be re-read, and is still bouncing around my head well after reading it.

Overall, some very good writing even if not every story rose quite to the level of standout noir. There is a nice blend of past and present, urban and rural, and a diverse cast of characters throughout. A solid 3.5 stars for me.

[Note: A copy of this book was provided to me by the publisher as a LibraryThing Early Reviewer.] ( )
  lordporkchop | May 20, 2020 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
This was a hit or miss collection for me. There were several strong stories, but there were a few that fell just a bit flat (due more to my personal tastes and not the writer's creations). Overall, I would still recommend this collection as it does offer a wide variety of dark tales and does a great job of keeping the Akashic series going strong. ( )
  glendalea | May 5, 2020 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Alabama seemed to me to be a state that would lend itself perfectly to noir and it was proven by this short story assortment, edited by Don Noble. His introduction was particularly engaging and I thought, set the right tone for the stories that followed. Why then did I give the book a 3-star rating? It’s because while the offerings in Part I were adequate, they didn’t really grab me, especially as promised by the introduction. It’s Part II and Part III where the action picked up, notably in stories such as Ace Atkins’ “Sweet Baby,” Winston Groom’s “Murder at the Grand Hotel,” and Ravi Howard’s “The Good Thief.” That said, it was an enjoyable read and a good addition to Akashic’s already notable noir collection. ( )
  bayleaf | Apr 25, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 13 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Noble, DonEditorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Atkins, AceContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Barton, MarlinContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Brown, D. WinstonContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Curnutt, KirkContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Franklin, TomContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Garner, Anita MillerContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Gossom Jr, ThomContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Groom, WinstonContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Grooms, AnthonyContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Haines, CarolynContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Howard, RaviContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Hudson, SuzanneContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Reed, WendyContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Richmond, MichelleContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Wallace, DanielContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Watson, BradContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed

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"There must be places like Hawaii where the idea of noir would be difficult to accommodate. Sunshine, drinks in a coconut, warm beaches, and leis do not generate the fear, darkness, and despair on which noir thrives. Alabama also has plenty of sunshine, some lovely beaches, and only a few foggy waterfronts where miscreants lurk, but it has been a famously dark place. Americans of a certain age read in their daily papers about the burning of the Freedom Riders' bus in Anniston and about the KKK beating those riders at the Birmingham and Montgomery bus stations in May 1961, with the silent cooperation of law enforcement. Americans actually watched, on the evening news, the German shepherds and fire hoses used on demonstrators in Birmingham and the violence at the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma. These days, Alabama has truly turned a corner on race, but the past will not, should not, and in fact cannot be forgotten. We are aware of the past here on a daily basis . . . The stories [in Alabama Noir] range from the deadly grim to some that are actually mildly humorous. We see desperate behavior on the banks of the Tennessee River, in the neighborhoods of Birmingham, in the affluent suburbs of Mobile, in a cemetery in Montgomery, and even on the deceptively pleasant beaches of the Gulf of Mexico"--

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