The other night I was listening to NPR on the way home (there went half our audience) and heard Terry Gross interview Charles Ardai, who founded and then sold the '90s ISP Juno. The interview was about his newer venture, Hard Case Crime.
Ardai — who has written a couple of well-received crime novels under the name Richard Aleas (an anagram of his name) — started Hard Case Crime to republish out-of-print classics of the noir/hardboiled crime genre, as well as a platform to publish unknown up-and-comers. They've got works by all the greats of hardboiled crime and detective fiction: Westlake, Bloch, Block, McBain, Spillane, Westlake, etc. I like that they keep the tradition of the lurid covers with punchy taglines alive. If you enjoy the noir era of detective and crime fiction at all, it's worth checking out.
There are some very successful crime fiction authors now who are clearly influenced by this pulp genre (Connelly, for instance), but few practice it in its original form. People deride pulp as, well, pulp. But it's a different sort of writer's art, just as different as a haiku is from an epic poem. The art of noir fiction appeals to me because it's so spare, so pure, so visceral — it takes just as much artistry to move a story and characters with those minimalist strokes as it does to put together a dense and complex novel.
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