Do you know someone heading off to Yale for school? A proud parent of a soon-to-be Yalie? Could their be a more delicious gift than the newest armchair anthology from the Akashic Noir series of geographically-organized noir short stories, New Haven Noir. This collection is by Amy Bloom who successfully gathered fifteen stories from New Haven past, present, and future with a noir sensibility.
On of the most innovative stories was “Spring Break” by John Crowley. It takes place in the future with the children of the class of 2017 coming to experience school, an anachronism in the wired world of the future. Crowley invents the English of the future, a language dramatically altered by texting. The protagonist wears droops and a swechirt, suggesting the language changed more than the fashions. A ghost story of the future, it was a delight to experience this imagined future language.
As always, the collection is a mix of more traditional mysteries like the editor’s “I’ve Never Been to Paris” that has a detective, a body, and a mystery to the urban legend “The Man in Room Eleven” by Michael Cunningham. Noir is a sensibility, not a genre and that is made evident in the variety of stories Bloom selected.
New Haven Noir appeals to everything I like, short stories, mystery, and innovative writing. It’s no secret I think the Akashic Noir series is a brilliant idea and a never-ending delight. Nonetheless, some in the series are better than others. With New Haven Noir, the variety of stories guarantees you will enjoy several of them. I liked them all, though Stephen L. Carter’s “Evening Prayer” seemed structured to deliver a punch line – if punch lines can be heartbreaking social commentary. Nonetheless, it made me want to read more by the author.
Some of the stories are so fresh they are post-election, in the trauma of this new less decent America that has abdicated its promise, full of the angst of living in a country that would elect someone whose only consistent promise was how much he could hate the same people they hate. Our collective national abandonment of democracy and pluralism is starting to show up in our literature and it’s fascinating to see its effect. If only it were fiction.
New Haven Noir will be released August 1st. I received an e-galley from the publisher through Edelweiss.