Monday, February 18, 2013

Rural noir

I'm a fan or rural noirs, dark crime fiction stories set in rural areas. I'm not the only one. In recent years we've seen a rise in usage of the term, and its other variations: country noir, grit lit, hillbilly noir, southern noir, etc. While the term itself may be new, Give us a Kiss by Daniel Woodrell was labeled as a Country Noir, the roots of this story type go back to the Southern Gothic tradition, and to books from the 30's and 40's (They Don't Dance Much by James Ross is a proto rural noir from 1940).

There's been a number of writings about this genre, story type, and the authors in it, including the recently released Grit Lit: A Rough South Reader.    I don't want to define what it is or isn't, that's for another day. What I did was create a Pinterest Board for rural noirs. That way readers looking for some other titles to read within this story type can get a gentle nudge in the right direction. This is less of a curated list then my noir board. It is also a work in progress so if you don't see something let me know and I'll probably add it. 

What are your favorite rural noirs?


Ray Garraty said...

Brian, you've probably seen this list:

Steven J. Wangsness said...

What will they think of next? Swamp noir? Steampunk noir? Viking noir?

Jay Stringer said...

WINTERS BONE rocked my world. But then, everybody already knew I'd say that.

I think our man in Weddleville will be one of these authors.

Jay Stringer said...

Also Sallis' Turner novels, do they count?

Doghouse Reilly said...

Real nice list, Brian. I've been devouring rural noir since before I knew there was a name for it. Here are a few you might like to add:

Knockemstiff, by Donald Ray Pollock (short story collection, deliciously disgusting)

Joe, and Fay, both by Larry Brown (Fay is probably a better book overall, but Joe sets it up and provides the backstory, so read that one first)

Galveston, by Nic Pizzolatto

The Errand Boy, by Don Bredes

The Deputy, by Victor Gischler

Yellow Medicine, by Anthony Neil Smith

Those last two feel a little contrived to me, like the authors tried too hard to make their antiheroes stupid (Gischler) or mean (Smith), but both are still enjoyable. I've also heard people sing the praises of Lisa Reardon, but never read her myself.

Anyway, as I said, I eat this stuff up, so keep it coming!