Introduction (to “The Best American Noir of the Century”)

We created it, but they love it more in France than they do here. Noir is the most scrutinized offshoot of the hard-boiled school of fiction. It’s the long drop off the short pier, and the wrong man and the wrong woman in perfect misalliance. It’s the nightmare of flawed souls with big dreams and the prices how and why of the all-time sure thing that goes bad. noir is opportunity as fatality, social justice as sanctified shuck, and sexual love as a one-way ticket to hell. Noir indicts the other subgenres of the hard-boiled school as sissified, and canonized the inherent human urge toward self-destruction.

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