Noir City starts tonight at the Castro Theatre in beautiful, dangerous San Francisco; here are some books from the City Lights basement to get you in the mood for nights in the shadows…
City Lights Noir
This unsettling novel inspired Pedro Almodovar’s acclaimed film “The Skin I Live In.”
*Mygale [MIG-uh-lee] n.: a genus of large tropical spiders. . . .
Richard Lafargue, a well-known plastic surgeon, pursues and captures Vincent Moreau, who raped Lafargue’s daughter and left her hopelessly mad in an asylum. Lafargue is determined to exact an atrocious vengeance, and an ambiguous, even sadomasochistic relationship develops between self-appointed executioner and victim.
“‘Ingenious,’ ‘elegant,’ ‘sinister’ – these are also adjectives that approximate, but fall short of, the narrative power of Mygale. Much like Poe’s ‘tales of terror,’ Mygale is a story that invites both respect and repulsion: As a reader, you’re happy to have read it . . . and just as happy, ultimately, to close the covers on its weird world.” –Maureen Corrigan, Washington Post Book World
“Great art in nightmarish darkness.” –Michel Lebrun
Thierry Jonquet (b. 1954, Paris) is an exponent of the hardboiled style of French noir that is inflected by post-May 1968 politics and social critique. His crime novels and children’s books have garnered many literary prizes.
The Prone Gunman
City Lights Noir
Martin Terrier is a hired killer who wants out of the game-so he can settle down and marry his childhood sweetheart. After all, that’s why he took up this profession! But the Organization won’t let him go: they have other plans. Once again, the gunman must assume the prone shooting position. A tour de force, this violent tale shatters as many illusions about life and politics as bodies.
Jean-Patrick Manchette (1942-1995) rescued the French crime novel from the grip of stodgy police procedurals, restoring the noir edge by virtue of his post-1968 leftism. Manchette is a totem to a generation of French mystery writers, and his stories have inspired several films, including Claude Chabrol’s Nada.
Introduction by George Pelecanos
Don Carpenter’s Hard Rain Falling is a tough-as-nails account of being down and out, but never down for good—a Dostoyevskian tale of crime, punishment, and the pursuit of an ever-elusive redemption. The novel follows the adventures of Jack Levitt, an orphaned teenager living off his wits in the fleabag hotels and seedy pool halls of Portland, Oregon. Jack befriends Billy Lancing, a young black runaway and pool hustler extraordinaire. A heist gone wrong gets Jack sent to reform school, from which he emerges embittered by abuse and solitary conﬁnement. In the meantime Billy has joined the middle class—married, fathered a son, acquired a business and a mistress. But neither Jack nor Billy can escape their troubled pasts, and they will meet again in San Quentin before their strange double drama comes to a violent and revelatory end.
When Paul Casablancas, Claire DeWitt’s musician ex-boyfriend, is found dead in his Mission District home, the police are convinced it’s a simple robbery. But Claire knows nothing is ever simple.
With the help of her new assistant, Claude, Claire follows the clues, finding hints to Paul’s fate in her other cases—especially that of a missing girl in the gritty 1980s East Village and a modern-day miniature horse theft in Marin. As visions of the past reveal the secrets of the present, Claire begins to understand the words of the enigmatic French detective Jacques Silette: “The detective won’t know what he is capable of until he encounters a mystery that pierces his own heart.” And love, in all its forms, is the greatest mystery of all—at least to the world’s greatest PI.
An addictive new adventure featuring an irresistible heroine.
The new noir tour de force by the riveting Jim Nisbet.
What’s a guy to do, when he lives under a bridge and has an unshakeable thirst for martinis? kill for cash. so goes the logic at the heart of Old and Cold, leading to a spree of hits that are sometimes perfectly executed, sometimes messy, set against the backdrop of San Francisco’s beaches, bars, and murky darkened streets. told at breakneck speed in a bravura voice, this novel is Jim Nisbet’s finest work yet, reminiscent of Jim Thompson at his best and Tarantino at his most irreverent. a tough and tender love letter to a city’s underbelly,
From inner city boroughs to the outlands, each contributor offers an original story based in a distinct neighborhood. At times brutal, darkly humorous, and revelatory–the stories speak of a hidden San Francisco, a town where the fog is but a prelude to darker realities lingering beneath.
“The protagonists of noir fiction have their own agendas, but for readers much of the pleasure is unraveling the mystery and deciphering the clues that constitute a city, and if there is a love story in noir writing it’s the passion of writers, readers, and protagonists for the gritty geographical details. As the bodies drop in the strong stories here, steep, fog-wrapped, fratricidal San Francisco comes alive: here are old neighborhoods, bars, bookstores, the famous and then forgotten landlord arson at 16th and Valencia, buried streams, streetcars, parks, a lost city and the new city haunting almost every page of this gorgeous anthology of San Francisco noir.” -Rebecca Solnit
“I was wondering about the city’s shadowside that the guides didn’t show. These top writers are of the ‘As bad as it gets’ brand, and then worse. If you like puke, fear & loathing caused by stray bullets, happenstance getting the hero who is an anti-hero really, a male corpse rotting in the bathtub while the woman poops in the garden, the Reverend Christmas shot in the ear by the PO-lice, then this is your good read for a murky, maybe even gritty, weekend.” -Janwillem van de Wetering
“San Francisco has long been a city of back alleys and black figures; this is its romantic map.” -Michael Ray, Editor, Zoetrope All-Story
Along with The Thin Man, this is my very favorite of Hammett’s books. His unnamed detective appears in story after story, solving case after case, on the streets of 1920s San Francisco. The pleasure is not only in the telling, but in following, street by street, streetcar by streetcar, the Continental Op as he traverses The City, still recognizable to us almost a hundred years later. —Recommended by Jeff, City Lights Books
Short, thick-bodied, mulishly stubborn, and indifferent to pain, Dashiell Hammett’s Continental Op was the prototype for generations of tough-guy detectives. In these stories the Op unravels a murder with too many clues, looks for a girl with eyes the color of shadows on polished silver, and tangles with a crooked-eared gunman called the Whosis Kid.