The Noir Nation India Issue is here

noir nation is hereThe much anticipated Noir Nation No. 3 — The India Issue — has hit the Amazon Marketplace. Click here or on the image above to have a look.

The issue contains over thirty entries from some of the very best literary crime fiction writers in the world, among them Suparn Verma, Samrat X, Yaeer Talker, Bianca Bellova, JJ Toner, Richard Godwin, Simon Rowe, Graham Wynd, David Siddell, and Meah Cross; as well as ace contributions from emerging noir writers Alastair Keen, Terrence P. McCauley, Frauke Schuster, Ryan Gattis, Chelsea L. Clemmons, Gila Green, Paul Alexander, Carmen Tudor, and Anthony Pioppi; and established hard-boiled wunderkinds Jonathan Sturak, Ed Lynsky, Mark Mellon, Christopher L. Irvin, and Nik Korpon, The issue also includes essays on noir-related poetry, music, and the visual arts by Atar Hadari, Vicki Gundrum, and Robert Brunet and two works of classic noir: “The Turkish Brothel” by the late Cortright McMeel and “The Perfect Courtesan” by Kshemendra.

Here is snippet from the issue, the introduction by Eddie Vega:

 A Search for Beauty, Dark and Brutal

Noir Nation is a search for beauty, dark and brutal. We can hear the initial call in these lines from W.B. Yeats’ masterful poem “Easter 1916”:

In the casual comedy;
He, too, has been changed in his turn,
Transformed utterly:
A terrible beauty is born.

There is a turning away from the light and the banal, the casual comedy, and a turning to the murderous passions and dark depravities of human nature and transgressive political bodies. In real life, such turns result in death, disfigurement, and prison. In literature, we can live and relive the mechanics vicariously and safely through the prism of the imagination. Even Grimm’s Fairy Tales had dark elements which helped children prepare for both the magic of life and its harsh realities. Cheerful weddings are counter-balanced by the cries of funeral birds.

In any case, the very definition of noir varies depending on whom we ask. Many will relate it to U.S. crime films arising from German expressionism, D.O.A., The Big Combo, and The Maltese Falcon, among others—and books by certain writers, such as David Goodis, Georges Simenon, James M. Cain, and, among the more literary set, Celine, and among the more drunken set, Charles Bukowski. There seems to be an effort, coming really from the academy, to classify it according to these 20th Century referents. But there are powerful elements of noir in Gilgamesh, The Cambodian Book of the Dead, The Book of Ecclesiastes, The Book of Job, and the mother of them all, Dante’s Inferno. In the visual arts, it spurts like dark blood through the works of Goya, Caravaggio, and Artemisia Gentileschi—who took vengeance on male figures in her paintings after being raped by her tutor—as well as Theodore Gericault, whose Raft of the Medusa depicts a horrific scene based on an actual historical event where many shipwrecked passengers died and the rest survived by eating the dead bodies. More recently, Edward Hopper, Jack Vettriano, and Peter Illig have moved the subject matter closer to elements familiar to crime pulp: isolation, voyeurism, sex.

But for us the kernel of noir lies in Federico Garcia Lorca’ seminal essay, “Theory and Play of the Duende.”

Duende is the dark goblin spirit that animates the deep song of Flamenco, songs soaked in human misery, and that my mother loved to listen to. It is also the ragged genie that animates artistic and religious expressions about crime and punishment. It is the ax of Raskolnikov and the Necklace of Kali. Lorca wrote that it wouldn’t appear unless it could see the possibility of death and that it loved the edge of the wound.

Lorca argues that there are two angels that animate art, the bright angels and the dark angels. They are both important to art’s creation. But of the two, the dark angels are more interesting. History indicates he is right. For example, Catholic scholars have argued that Dante’s Paradiso is the most important part of his Divine Comedy, a work clearly animated by the bright angels. That may be true. But it is The Inferno, the first part—where evil acts are punished by brutal means—that excites the imagination and that has had the more lasting impact on world literature.

So the definition of noir can be very broad—anything that is dark and/or transgressive—a fact that no doubt annoys some academics who need well-defined categories for their lectures, panel discussions, and articles for scholarly journals. They need a workable definition. Crime Noir, for example, has a more limited scope than simply Noir. With crime noir, there must be a crime or the possibility of one. It can’t just have the dark mood of Ecclesiastes. There must be a violation of the civic or moral law.

On television, The Sopranos, The Wire, Law & Order, and Breaking Bad, are among the most popular TV shows in history. Aesthetically, many crime films and television shows have a noirish feel, which they create not only with deft use of shadows but also with the use of cool light that relies on the blue spectrum (the original CSI with William Peterson offers good examples of these elements). Many of these shows are available internationally.

But we don’t see this as an exclusively U.S. phenomenon. Crime noir has ancient and aboriginal roots in Japan, India, Spain, Mexico, Cambodia, indeed just about every country in the world. What we are seeing today is an exquisite confluence of all these cultural rivers forming an Amazon of Noir. Its most potent stream comes from India and her large cities, Delhi, Bangalore, and Mumbai.

With over 1.2 billion residents, India is not only the world’s most copious producer of crime pulp, it is also its hungriest consumer. Even in her chirpy feel-good Bollywood films, guns and gangsters vie with the singing and the dancing. Although the work of many Indian writers of crime noir are not to be found in fashionable bookstores—next to the hardcover books of Jhumpa Lahiri, Salmon Rushdie, and Vikram Seth—they are in much more popular spots: the stalls and book carts of A H Wheeler & Co found among the 8,000 railway stations that serve India’s 25 million daily commuters riding 71,000 miles of uneventful track. That is India’s open secret: crime novels stay close to their devouring readers. This needs commemorating.

Hence Noir Nation No. 3: The India Issue. Dark, brutal, and beautiful to the eye that loves the shadows—where the dark angels flock.

Eddie Vega
Brooklyn, NY

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LITTLE MONSTERS: New Independent Film Features Child Murderers

Little_MonstersLITTLE MONSTERS has everything a successful independent film needs, a veteran director with a passion for his craft, a hungry production team who can eke out every resource from a shoestring budget, and a stable of actors from Las Vegas who take pride in their craft. David Schmoeller’s realization of his own script entices you with crime, drama, and suspense. The film explores bullying in America at its core by examining how the horrific crime of two ten-year-olds has shaken America. Everyone from the victim’s family, to the seedy tabloid market, to the vigilantes with a bone to pick has a hand in this story. But something happens about midway through the film. Schmoeller brings this twenty-thousand-foot view slowly and methodically down to the personal level of the characters. It’s subtle at first, but when you realize what happened, the film takes on new meaning. These two bullies (now 18 and recently released from Juvenile Detention) become human. We feel how these events have changed them, how the events have eaten away at their lives, and the lives of those around them. Scenes become engrossing, wrapping you up with complexity and providing you with a window into the souls of these characters. This is where the actors shine, playing off each other and bringing you with them into their emotional worlds. The scene where Carl (played by Charles Cantrell) meets his mother after being incarcerated for eight years is film masterpiece. Being a fan of Schmoeller’s early work (Puppetmaster (1989); Tourist Trap (1979)), it’s wonderful to see how his films have changed over the years with the rise of independent filmmaking, yet his works still hold true to his ability to scare you, to shock you, to play with your emotions. LITTLE MONSTERS is no different. If you get a chance to see this film, you must see it!

LITTLE MONSTERS will have its Las Vegas Premiere at the Vegas Independent Film Festival (VIFF) – it will be an “Encore Closing Night” Screening at Brenden Theaters at the Palms on Thursday, May 9th, at 7pm (Red Carpet at 6pm). Tickets are available for this screening from Fandango HERE.

Watch the trailer:

Like LITTLE MONSTERS’s Facebook page for updates.

Read Jonathan Sturak’s interview with David Schmoeller from November 2012.

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Vegas Loves VEGAS WAS HER NAME

Author Jonathan Sturak was invited to the Clark County Library on Flamingo Road in Las Vegas on Saturday, April 6 to meet library patrons and discuss his new novel, VEGAS WAS HER NAME. Guests holding books about the history of Las Vegas or about gambling secrets stopped by to learn about the new crime novel by Noir Nation Books set in Las Vegas. The event was a success!

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Noir Nation launches VEGAS WAS HER NAME by Jonathan Sturak

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Noir Nation is pleased to announce the release of Jonathan Sturak’s novel Vegas Was Her Name. Sturak grew up in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania. A Penn State University graduate with degrees in Computer Science and Film, he currently lives in Las Vegas, where he uses the energy of the city to craft stories about life and the human condition.

“The Place Called Home,” Sturak’s essay about Eastern European heritage in Northeast PA, was featured on Glass Cases, associate literary agent Sarah LaPolla’s pop culture blog at glasscasesblog.blogspot.com. He is also a Noir Nation contributing editor. His debut thriller novel Clouded Rainbow was published in December 2009 and has over 100,000 downloads on the Amazon Kindle. More information about him is available on his website at sturak.com.

Vegas Was Her Name concerns Michael Harris, CEO of an engineering company. At the world’s largest technology convention in Las Vegas, Harris debuts Venus, a humanized computer brain that can predict human behavior. He attracts international attention, including the attention of Rachel, a steamy seducer who cons Michael by concealing a secret of her own. Melissa, Michael’s wife, flies to Las Vegas to save her husband and her marriage as the events unfold in the shadows of the Las Vegas Strip.

A real potboiler! Available now on Amazon.

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Noir Nation at CES 2013

Eyes of McQueen

Eddie Vega (L) and Jonathan Sturak (R) at the CES 2013 convention in Las Vegas. The eyes belong to the late actor Steve McQueen.

Noir Nation editors Jonathan Sturak and Eddie Vega attended the Consumer Electronics Show (CES)  in Las Vegas. With attendance in excess of 120,000 participants, it was the largest CES in many years, and in any year it is the largest convention in Las Vegas.

A full set of images can be seen on Flickr. In the meantime, here are some of the noir related things they saw…

Mobsters

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Actors from a Las Vegas theatrical show called Mob Attraction

Femme Fatales

Marta Davis of Headcase

Marta Davis of Headcase, manufacturer of an iPhone case equipped with a bottle opener.

 Noir Products

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Noir skull iPhone case

Skull Candy kiosk at CES 2013, located outside the the convention center

Skullcandy kiosk at CES 2013, located in a lot just outside the the convention center

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