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Chicago Noir (Akashic Noir) Paperback – September 1, 2005
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From Publishers Weekly
While not up to the standard set by Brooklyn Noir, the inaugural volume in Akashic's city-themed noir series, the Chicago entry offers 18 all-original stories that illustrate Chicago's great ethnic diversity, pay homage to its sports teams (particularly the Cubs) and invoke its cultural past from jazz to Prohibition. Unfortunately, most of the selections lack the kind of visceral punch the best noir stories carry. One wishes, too, that the editor had been able to add some familiar names associated with Chicago crime fiction (e.g., Max Allan Collins, Sara Paretsky, Barbara D'Amato) to what is largely a roster of lesser knowns. The standout is perhaps Kevin Guilfoile's cleverly imagined and brilliantly executed tale, "Zero Zero Day," about a man obsessed with monitoring police calls. Also notable are C.J. Sullivan's "Alex Pinto Hears the Bell," about an aging boxer given one last shot at capturing some ring glory; Pollack's "Marty's Drink or Die Club," where traditions are upheld at all cost; and Achy Obejas's "Destiny Returns," which describes the strange odyssey of a Cuban refugee who achieves cult status as a drag queen in her new home.
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Top Customer Reviews
The stories in Chicago Noir trace an illustrative path around the city's neighborhoods, described in the introduction by the editor, Neal Pollack:
"Chicago's neighborhoods have totemic value to those who treasure them, but even more important are its street names. Every intersection runs thick with meaning, and every one has its own personality."
Each story in Chicago Noir inhabits a specific place in Chi, and the characters revealed by these talented authors bring their neighborhood corners to life on the page. Whether it's the tale of awestruck admiration for an older cousin (Maximillian by Alexai Galaviz-Budziszewski) or a heart-wrending story of innocence trampled under foot (Bobby Kagan Knows Everything by Adam Langer), these are noir stories that take Otto Penzler's definition to heart.
You won't find any hard-boiled gumshoes ducking punches or dancing with femmes fatale in these tales of Chicago. What you will find is the city itself, and the people who live there shown at their worst even as they try their damnedest to do their best.
Perhaps the best entry in this collection is "Alex Pinto Hears the Bell" by C.P. Sullivan, a poignant story of an impoverished ex-prizefighter as he tries to make sense of a world gone mad.
Right after LA, Chicago is the place where the term "noir" would find itself most at home. So it's somewhat disappointing that a book entitled Chicago Noir isn't more electrifying in its content.
Three stars... no more, no less.
Chicago Noir follows the tradition of Akashic Books' Brooklyn Noir and San Francisco Noir in offering tales of shady characters, double dealings, gun molls and violent deaths in and around one select city or location; this time Chicago. But while not all of the tales have a Chicago flavor even in the least bit, the stories themselves do manage to live up to the
flavor of noir.
[...]Bayo Ojikutu's The Gospel of Moral Ends, while well intentioned, belongs in another book altogether, which is to say that overall Chicago Noir burns as hot and brilliant as the Chicago Fire-even if editor Neal Pollack, who does a fantastic job here as editor, no longer lives in the Windy City.