straight down the line

Diving into Noir

This week, we were assigned to read several pieces of noir.

The required piece for this week is “The Postman Always Rings Twice” by James M. Cain. This piece was pretty racist in my opinion. There was a lot of stereotyping happening in the beginning. At the end of Chapter 2, things took a turn and I could definitely see how noir is a theme in this piece. The piece was very descriptive with vivid imagery, so I could almost picture it. The vocabulary was very much outdated, but it did a good job of putting an imagine in my mind while I was reading. It gets pretty violent at point and the story line is very strange. It’s actually a very twisted piece. The later half of the piece and the ending really threw me for a loop. It is a piece unlike anything I have ever read before. After reading this piece, I can definitively see how noir is tied in and how this piece is written in a style of noir.

This week, we also had to read a couple of choice pieces from a list. When choosing these pieces, I looked to see which titles seemed intriguing to me. Then, I skimmed the first few pages to make sure I picked something I would enjoy reading. For the first choice piece, I chose to read “The Shadow” which is a script for The Death Triangle episode starring Orson Welles. This script was written in December of 1937. I like how the script gives very vivid descriptions on what is happening, what is being heard, etc. These very vivd descriptions are incorporated into the script and give the reader a sense of what it is like to be there. I found it very creepy how The Shadow was dictating Dr. Evans. The Shadow was used in multiple ways. The Shadow was a character in the episode, but The Shadow is also a figurative way of denoting something is there. In a way (though it’s a different form) it’s kind of like a hostage situation. I found it very creepy how at the end the script stated that “the shadow knows…”. Creepy! The plot/story line was all over the place and it seemed to be very twisted, like the other story I read. For the second choice piece, I chose to read “The Killers” by Ernest Hemingway. This piece was written in March of 1927. The language in this piece is very vulgar and racist. I did not like this piece at all. It made me very uncomfortable. It seemed to me that they were doing things for absolutely no reason or the background reason wasn’t given. When they do give a reasoning it is like a “just because…” I was glad that even though the title suggests killing, nobody was actually killed in this piece unlike the other pieces I read. This piece was definitely less gruesome, but still descriptive.

We also had to choose one of the stories from the fiction section of the Noir issue of Shenandoah Literacy. I chose to read “Driftwood” by Michael Caleb Tasker. The language in this piece was very vulgar. When I was reading there would just casually be a curse word when I least expected. The term “drifters” in this piece is referring to homeless people who are “drifting” or wandering. This was a very complex and hard to read piece, in my opinion. I found myself to be very lost at points. I liked the descriptions a lot, but I was slightly confused.

I see a common theme among all of these noir readings. They are very twisted. Killing (each other) also seems to be a common theme. All of the pieces are very descriptive. When I was reading them, I felt like I was there. I liked reading these noir pieces, they definitely got me thinking, but they are not my type of reading style. I still enjoy discovering them.

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