Tag Archive | noir

Yes, no and pomo…

Last Sunday I picked up a book by Edward deBono. I was in town trying to find a farmers market that had been on the previous week and ended up browsing for books. It was called ‘Po: Beyond yes and no‘ it argues that thought can become stuck between linear patterns that are prescribed by our position in society etc, etc… leading to inevitable, stale thought. He suggests an alternative answer such questions might be ‘po’; a kind of neither nor response rather than some kind of synthetic compromise. Po (as I understand it) represents the opportunity to be creative, lateral or down right silly. It is the transparent, to what colour should I paint the house colour? The banjo quartet in the metal anthem. The grow more legs, to how can I run faster on snow. Po doesn’t have to make sense, it isn’t governed by the structures of right or wrong, success or failure; its from the 70s and I love it.

I stumbled upon Po by accident, whilst looking for something displaced by time and distracting myself for a few minutes before walking home. The product of random chance, another area of creative brilliance. Douglas Adams speculated on the ‘fundamental interconnectedness of all things’ in DGHDA far better than I could, his detective relied on this methodology and was probably my first introduction to the hard-boiled egg of noirish, PI fiction. I will write another time about the hell of unconscious plagiarism / tribute / inspiration into which I inevitably descended.

{I just saw a mother pulling her child along a train station on a three wheel scooter, a happy little suitcase, experiencing the safety of his mothers hand and the thrill of fair ground speed, surely a bit of ‘po’ in that arrangement.}

This all leaves me in a terrible, post modern mess. Discussing the post modern interview, Mats Alvesson rejects ideas of objectivity and positivistic certainties, in favour of context and relationship, trying to give the subject voice rather than worrying about any bias or partiality on part of the researcher. The interview is the product of two people meeting and talking about some stuff. It represents that meeting, between those individuals and what they said. So far so wonderful, the critics naturally question its scientific usefulness, but hey, that’s the game. Bloody science fascists, with their quests for the twin dragons of reliability and validity; I hope they find them in the forest of facts. One bit I think I understand about post modernism (a shaky claim at best) relates to an aim to sever ties between language and meaning, meaning and object. That somehow, the oppressive naming of things binds us in rigid ways of thinking that keep us in our place, nicely. That by subverting prescribed meaning and allowing for the many truths, we can escape the shackles of definition. (A recent dalliance with George Bataille’s Encyclopaedia Acephalica, by way of the ME4 writers and CitAEcephale, allowed some fun with this.) Unaware of all this nonsense, Chavelle was of this world. A non-tective, he was a PI in actions rather than job. His investigation accidental, pulling at a string and hoping to find something useful at the other end, perhaps obscuring more facts than uncovered with ‘pomo’ self indulgence.

***

A man lies dead surrounded by roses. The detective walks in and points at the butler.

‘Why him?’ Asks the bumbling representative of authority.

‘Because he’s wearing red trousers.’. Mutters the man in the dirty mac as he chews the remains of his stogie.

What was a muse on time…

I have spent the past twenty minutes crafting a piece on time. I discussed the lack of it, it’s whimsical nature and how there is never enough of it. In my over wordy blog, I wondered at the connection between those moments of procrastination and living that can inevitably provide both solace and inspiration for creativity.

I went on to explore my nocturnal habits, of writing between the sheets or tilted back on an armchair made by the upholster to the Queen, romanticising the moonlight flicker on fresh paper and bemoaning the comparatively early bed time of my inner editor, who inevitably wakes up fresh and early to chew out the pathetic zombie left after indulging in such lunacy.

I was then going to write something about the gaps of disengagement and disenchantment over months or sometimes years and wondering if the end result was stagnancy or perhaps percolation? But then my iPhone crashed and I lost the lot, then during this rewrite my dog fell down the stairs. Well, the first three anyway. She’s alright, it seems, but wishes she could still make the steep climb to the top of our Victorian terrace. We stopped her coming up and sleeping at the foot of our bed a few months back, after a few two many stumbles on the way up and the increasingly uncontrolled speed of her descent. We had a gate fitted at the bottom to put her off, but we managed to break it somehow, ripping chunks of plaster out of the wall. Keisha seemed to have resigned herself to sleeping downstairs, but had clearly been plotting and training all along, waiting for the perfect moment. I checked her over and let her out the back for a bit and when she’d done her business sat and stroked her for a while, enjoying the moment. I’ve now go a chair at the bottom of my stairs and an embarrassed looking German shepherd in my front room. I wonder if they do stair lifts for animals?

Anyway, times gone, I ain’t been staying up writing as late recently, but have been getting far more done through getting on with it. Hope someone lets me out when I fall down the stairs, don’t think I’ve quite given up on all my silly romantic ideals just yet.

FRANK ‘Boiling point’ – by Neil Colquhoun

Frank, a mysterious bounty hunter gets more than he bargained for in his latest assignment. Becoming mixed up in the beginnings of a gang war, he has to contend with a team of hit-men, who are not like your usual guns-for-hire!

It’s a story about a a bounty hunter, a dead-but-alive hitman partnered with an alive-but-should-be-dead criminal, an escort girl, a man who has a taste for something bad… and the Devil!

Download the trailer for Frank ‘Boiling point’ here or listen to the whole story here.

What’s in a name?

The
naming of my private detective was a convoluted and somewhat
ridiculous affair, coming as it did from the routes of my
fascination with hard boiled literature. Dashiell
Hammet’s
Sam Spade – the hero of one of my favourite
pieces of fiction – The Maltese Falcon. Sam Spade IS hard boiled, no nonsense and
represents an unthinking sense of action and grit that is nothing
at all like me. I fell in love with the clipped prose of
Hammett and Raymond Chandler with their stories of the street and
its violence, of betrayal and classy ladies with tawdry secrets.
The real crime with Hammett was how little he wrote compared
to some crime writers, with only five novels – fortunately there
are several collections of short stories and Bogart’s portrayal of
Spade in the 1941 film is spell binding, ensuring the character is
cemented as an icon of noir. The Spade character inspired
Chandler when he created Phillip Marlowe, a similar detective with
similar problems, similarly portrayed by Bogart in the 1946’s The Big
Sleep
. Chandler concisely solved that age old
problem of writer’s block with his law: “When
in doubt, have a man come through a door with a gun in his
hand.” All these links entertain in their own way, as
part of what caught my attention in the first place, the logical
conclusion being Mike
Hammer
. Hammer lacks finesse, even stood next to
Marlowe and Spade. He’s a first class bastard who rules the
pulpier end of market, kicking in doors and teeth with equal zeal.
In ‘Vengeance is mine’, Spillane’s no nonsense PI wakes up in
a room next to the body of a friend who has apparently killed
himself with Hammer’s gun. They had both been drinking all
night and Hammer can’t remember what happened. Despite my
general preference for the more nuanced characters of Spade and
Marlowe, this beginning creates a brilliance of opportunity for
story and adventure that match Chandler’s law for its simplicity,
laziness and dumb brilliance. Both create the story by
taking it to (or in Spillane’s case starting from) a true nowhere
point. The action creates an avalanche of questions and
mystery, throwing the reader off guard and gifting the author with
a multitude of plot directions that require very little in the way
of planning.
I wanted to root my character
in both the dark waters of noir and the muddy stank of the river
Medway. Following the pattern of messrs Hammett and Spillane,
I wanted to combine a monosyllabic christian name with an
everyday tool, but avoid the inevitable Nick Screwdriver or Dave
Fork. Chavelle combines that which moves dung with the much
maligned, Romani term of endearment ‘Chav
referring to a young man or youth. Chav is inextricably
linked to Medway through its more recent usage to describe a
particular youth culture that supposedly (in some mythologies)
originated in Chatham, where I was born.