Chicago skyline at night

E58 — Chicago Noir


Zip up your windbreakers and don’t forget change for the highway tolls — in Episode 58 we head to Chicago to wrap our heads around Chicago Noir.

We talk about Chicago as a city for noir, and we look at crime fiction by Nelson Algren, Howard Browne, Frederic Brown, Sara Paretsky, Michael Harvey, Danny Gardner, Bob Hartley, & more.

Italian beef, tavern cut pizza, Old Style, Malort, murder. You ready?

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3 thoughts on “E58 — Chicago Noir”

  1. I was fascinated by the fact that you found no Dashiell Hammetts or Raymond Chandlers among the multitudes of Chicago Noir writers you considered and that you ended up rating the authors and their books primarily by how effectively they captured their Chicago setting. I can’t offer any explanation for this, but I do think this session points out the essential role of setting in noir fiction. I learned this lesson not from an author but from a filmmaker: Alfred Hitchcock considered setting a major character in his movies. Think of the Bates Motel and the Mansion in PSYCHO, the rural New England village in THE TROUBLE WITH HARRY, the Greenwich Village apartment complex in REAR WINDOW. The concept of setting as character is nowhere more important than in noir. San Francisco for Hammett, Los Angeles for Chandler, all of California for Macdonald. For me, in SOMEONE TO WATCH OVER ME, it was Hollywood in 1947–a glamorous, enticing swamp of corruption and deceit. You may not have uncovered any works of literary genius in your survey of Chicago noir, but you certainly established the overwhelming importance of setting in the genre. Well-done!

    1. I did like a lot of what we read, and I’d say that some of the works we reviewed were very good to great, but I agree that we wanted to emphasize the Chicago-ness of Chicago Noir. If it doesn’t take us to Chicago (or wherever it is supposed to be) is it [Place name] Noir at all?

  2. I really loved the details you guys explored about the city and the inspired books! I have been looking forward to this episode for a while! Thanks for another great discussion.

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