Noir Lit: Women and Murder

February 23rd, 2018 6:00 PM
Last Friday of each month
The Marxist Education Project
Noir Lit: Women and Murder
Genre Fiction
Jacqueline Cantwell

In honor of Valentine’s Day and twisted love, we will read two novels by men about femme fatales for Feb 23.

Drawing upon the potentials of film noir’s formula of restlessness, dread, and discontent within social corruption, women novelists wrote of threats to the domestic sphere and American society emerging as the global hegemon. Women writers explored crime and violence resulting from the racism and class exploitation while some male authors began writing of more complicated women.

Black Wings Has My Angel by Elliott Chaze has been re-issued by the New York Review of Books Classics after being out of print for fifty years First published in 1953 and considered the finest novel published by Gold Medal Books, Barry Gifford had planned to re-issue it under the Black Lizard imprint in the late 80’s, but Black Lizard was sold and the project dropped by the new owners. Chaze never got the chance in his lifetime to enjoy the revival of noir.

Black Wings Has My Angel uses all the tropes of noir. A released prisoner, a WWII veteran, hooks up with a questionable blonde. The pair doesn’t like working in straight jobs so they plan a bank heist, but things go wrong, of course. This is noir where no one lives happily ever after.

While Black Wings Has My Angel was out-of-print, available copies influenced future writers, including an eight-year-old French boy named Jean-Patrick Manchette. Chaze’s description of the questionable blonde rolling naked in the stolen loot influenced Jean-Patrick’s Manchette’s development. He grew up to be a Situationist, a script writer, and a novelist influenced by the harsh anti-capitalist ethos of American noir and the coolness of jazz.

Fatale is Manchette’s play upon the American western where the mysterious stranger comes to town and renders justice.  Manchette’s mysterious stranger is  “a beautiful, negative creature” who plays the town’s rich against each other. In the end, everybody dies, but Manchette likes this woman and he gives her a glorious send-off.

Both these novels are quick reads, so if anyone wants to review Manchette’s other novels available in English, The Mad and The Bad, The Prone Gunman, and Three to Kill, feel free, or the graphic novel adaptations by Tardi.

Looking forward to dark love in February!

March, April and May readings to be announced shortly

Jacqueline Cantwell has explored the depths of crime fiction along with the heights the desperate will often want to throw themselves from. These fictions will lay bare many of the facts of the cold as ice killings and cover-ups present in a modern world where we are expected to behave better—but very often do not. What better night than Fridays in Autumn for murder and mayhem.



Sliding scale: $35 / $45 / $55.
$10 suggested for each single session.
No one turned away for inability to pay

The Brooklyn Commons
388 Atlantic Ave.
Brooklyn, NY 11217

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