The spirit of Noir lives in Lou Boxer. He is the co-chair and mastermind behind NoirCon, which celebrates the life of David Goodis, as well as all things Noir. He is a wealth of information and insight into the genre and Goodis himself. Every two years Lou hosts one of the greatest crime festivals on the planet. Welcome to Noir Con.
Lou met me at The Slaughterhouse, where we talked about the fantastic line up this year and why Goodis epitomises the genre.
Tell us about the great line up you have for this year’s NoirCon.
The best way to tell you about the line up for NoirCon 2012, is to let the line up speak for itself. Here it is in a nutshell or as NoirCon 2012 At-A-Glance! Take a moment to visit the websites of these talented individuals and see the noir magic that will come to life at NoirCon 2012!
NoirCon At-A-Glance 2012 [§,*]
Thursday, November 8th – Phila Mausoleum of Contemporary Art, 531 North 12th Street, 19123, http://www.philamoca.org/, 267-519-9651
Friday, November 9th – Society Hill Playhouse, 507 South 8th Street, 19147, http://www.societyhillplayhouse.org/, 215-923-0210
‣ The Art of Noir – Heide Hatry
‣ Career in C Minor – Wesley Stace, Nathaniel Larson, Cullen Gallagher (moderator)
‣ Good Country People (Southern Noir) – Peter Farris, Vicki Hendricks, Jake Hinkson, Joe Samuel Starnes (moderator), Jonathan Woods
‣ L.A.Noire – Megan Abbot, Lawrence Block, Joyce Carol Oates, Jonathan Santlofer (moderator), Duane Swierczynski
‣ Double Trouble: Taking Noir Personally: Polito and Schenkar – Robert Polito and Joan Schenkar
‣ Jeremiah Healy Interviews Otto Penzler
‣ NoirCon 2012 Award Dinner – Penns Landing Caterer, 1301 South Columbus Blvd, 19147, 215-336-7404
‣ 3rd Goodis Award (Block/Boxer), 3rd Kogan Award (Penzler/Kogan), 1st NoirCon 2012 Poetry Award (Polito) Music: DJ Mobita Entertainment: Grover Silcox– Tell Tale Heart
Saturday, November 10th – Society Hill Playhouse, 507 South 8th Street, 19147
‣ True Crime – Megan Abbot, Alison Gaylin, Wallace Stroby, Dennis Tafoya
‣ NoirCon 2012 Keynote Speaker – Robert Olen Butler
‣ Jewish Noir – Jay Gertzman, SJ Rozan, Michele Lang, Kenneth Wishnia
‣ Burlesque Noir – Frank DeBlase, Lulu Lollipop, Susana Mayer, Timaree Schmit
‣ Duane Swierczynski Interviews Lawrence Block
‣ NOIR [cash] BAR Hilton Garden Inn, 1100 Arch Street, 19107 – 10th Floor Grill
Sunday, November 11th – Society Hill Playhouse, 507 South 8th Street, 19147
[*] Times subject to change
[§] Panelists subject to change
In addition to our wonderful noir bookdealers from Farley’s Bookshop, two incredible books will make there debuts at NoirCon 2012 (Be the first to these books that will leave you wanting more from Harrington and Hatry!)
The incredible of genius and work of Jeff Wong will leave you speechless and wondering how they can out do themselves in 2014!
So be a part of Noir history and join us in November 2012.
Behind NoirCon lives the spirit of the great David Goodis. Tell us about your love for his writing and why he is a key name in Noir writing.
David Goodis is finally getting the attention and respect that he so richly deserves. From the wonderful documentary DAVID GOODIS….TO A PULP to the Library of America’s recent publication, Goodis: Five Noir Novels of the 1940s and 50s (Dark Passage, Nightfall, The Burglar,The Moon in the Gutter, and Street of No Return) , edited by Robert Polito. To his loyal fans (myself included), it has been a long time coming but certainly worth the struggle and wait!
For me, Goodis captures the loneliness, desperation and melancholy that we all struggle to escape, but somehow never seem to break free of. Goodis forces us to look into the mirror of life and see the beauty and horrors that await us all.
Goodis was and is an artist’s artist. He once said, “the greatest works of art are those wherein the artist is unmindful of the time and effort expended, and concerned only with the goal of creating a thing of truth and loveliness and perfection.” His works are poignant to a fault, raw and unsettling. When I think of Goodis, I am reminded of William D. Sherman’s David Goodis/Dark Passage (Sight and Sound, 1968, page 41) written a year after his death:
The only glimmer of hope in the lives of his characters is the possibility of love. All of his heroes, no matter how degenerate, are blessed (or cursed) with women who try to redeem their lives, Sometimes the attempt at redemption fails (as in DOWN THERE), and leads instead to a kind of madness. Sometimes (as in CASSIDY’S GIRL), it leads to a renewed opportunity. Most often, it is left ambiguous whether or not the love affair will be consummated for more than a transient moment. In DARK PASSAGE, a novel which is typical in that it fails midway between the high level of accomplishment of DOWN THERE and the hack-work of CASSIDY’S GIRL, the hero, on the run from the police, asks his lover to meet him in Peru. Whether she will or not is problematical. But always, Goodis asserts where comedy intrudes in moments of tragedy and disaster lurks beneath the surface in the happiest of times.
Life is roller coaster ride taking us to great height but also great lows. In the end, we are left white knuckled, scared and wanting to ride just one more time!
Goodis was an enigma. Never letting even his closest friends too close, Goodis was tells his story (and our story) through the lives of his characters. Goodis shows us at our worst and at our best like no other. For this reason, he has finally entered the pantheon of great writers in my opinion.
The craft that he so tirelessly honed can be seen in many writers today. The recipients of the David Goodis Award are true descendants of this legacy: Ken Bruen (2008), George Pelecanos (2010) and Lawrence Block (2012). Who will be next?
The spirit of Goodis can also be seen in the poetry collected for the first NoirCon Poetry Contest and in the short stories submitted for the Atomic Noir Book being published by Out Of The Gutter for NoirCon 2012.
The spirit of David Goodis is alive in writing, music and art. To embrace it, is to live a fuller life.
Do you think love can redeem us?
If it cannot, it sure can make perishing in hell a little less lonely!
Tell us about your own writing projects.
My writing projects have become quite involved as late.
I am currently collaborating with my dear friend, Jeff Wong, on the NoirCon 2012 program. It is a labor of noir love! We have collected fiction, non-fiction, poetry, pen and ink illustrations from the great Rick Geary to name a few. It includes some of the greats and those on the cusp of becoming great. This book will be just another installment in the NoirCon compendium that is ever growing. This project is about noir, but also about giving a voice and a platform to writers that normally would not get the opportunity to show their wares to the masses.
Another project that ended in June involved the first ever NoirCon 2012 poetry contest. I am proud to say that we received more than 40 exceptional works that valiantly attempted to capture the essence of noir. Some would say that it cannot be done, but I would argue that these brave and talented poets crafted some of the darkest, meanest verse that I have ever read or seen before. The winners will be announced by Robert Polito at the NoirCon 2012 Award Dinner on November 9th. The top ten poems selected by our panel will appear in the NoirCon 2012 program and have a monterary prize given the winners.
ATOMIC NOIR is the explosive culmination of Out Of The Gutter and NoirCon that allows young, up-and-coming writers to brandish their skills. Here is the skinny on this:
NOIRCON 2012 is going slumming with Out of the Gutter Online to highlight new authors and new crime yarns that hearken back to the era when David Goodis grinded out his grim, moody tales and Jim Thompson introduced the world to psycho noir.
Between July 1 and October 15, one story between 5,000 and 8,000 words will be selected each month for a prime spot in ATOMIC NOIR: Four Dark Original Stories Inspired by Post-World War II Crime Fiction. Winners get $50 and a copy of the book, and even better, they get their work distributed to the biggest names and biggest fans in current crime fiction at NOIRCON 2012, the toughest noir event in America, held every two years in a theater basement in downtown Philly.
Finally, I continue to investigate the personal life of David Goodis. It is my hope to continue in the tradition started by Phillipee Garnier’s A Life in Darkness.
Among others luminaries, Lawrence Block will be there, slumped over the bar next to Otto Penzler, and should you win, your story, included in this slim, handsome volume, will be placed in these men’s hands by the event’s organizer and the lead figure in the current David Goodis revival, Lou Boxer.
Lou himself will be in charge of assessing and accepting stories, and helping him to judge and organize the material will be none other than Philadelphia’s own crime fiction master, the phenomenal Duane Swierczynski.
It can’t get much better so consider that the end of the pitch. Here are the details:
» Submissions for the first round open July 1 and close July 21. Submissions for subsequent rounds open the first of the month and close on the 15th.
» Send original work that has not been previously published.
» Send work as a Microsoft Word document, using the standard manuscript format. To receive your complimentary copy of the book and the prize money, include your real name and a mailing address, as well as instructions to deposit money into your PayPal account if that’s how you prefer to receive funds.
» Stories must be no less than 5,000 words, and no more than 8,000 words.
» Send work by email only, to Lou Boxer, here.
» We’re specifically looking for work reflecting the style and sensibilities of the geniuses who revolutionized crime fiction between 1950 and 1970. Think Goodis, Thompson, Woolrich, Willeford, Himes, McBain, MacDonald . . . Think of Gold Medal paperbacks containing seedy worlds of cheap murder and cheaper sex . . . Think of a Utopian era darkened by the threat of nuclear obliteration, its shadows haunted by disillusioned vets, mobsters sucking wealth from a booming economy, backstreet tramps, smalltime hoods, desperate schemers… Your story doesn’t absolutely have to take place in this period, but you must capture the moods and themes that define its crime writing.
I continue to follow in the tradition of Phillipe Garnier’s Goodis, la vie en noir et blanc (Goodis: A Life in Black and White) by documenting the incredible life of David Goodis.
Thank you Lou for a truly Noir interview.