USA Noir: Best of the Akashic Noir Series

USA Noir: Best of the Akashic Noir Series

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Overview

“All the heavy hitters, from Michael Connelly in Los Angeles to Joyce Carol Oates in suburban New Jersey . . . an important anthology.”—The New York Times Book Review (Editors’ Choice)
 
Features Dennis Lehane’s story “Animal Rescue,” the inspiration for the movie The Drop starring Tom Hardy.
 
Launched with the summer 2004 award-winning bestseller Brooklyn Noir, the groundbreaking Akashic Noir series now includes over sixty volumes and counting. The stories in USA Noir “represent the best of the U.S.-based anthologies, and the list of contributors include virtually anyone who’s made the best-seller list with a work of crime fiction in the last decade . . . a must-have anthology” (Booklist, starred review).
 
Featuring stories by: Dennis Lehane, Don Winslow, Michael Connelly, George Pelecanos, Susan Straight, Jonathan Safran Foer, Laura Lippman, Pete Hamill, Joyce Carol Oates, Lee Child, T. Jefferson Parker, Lawrence Block, Terrance Hayes, Jerome Charyn, Jeffery Deaver, Maggie Estep, Bayo Ojikutu, Tim McLoughlin, Barbara DeMarco-Barrett, Reed Farrel Coleman, Megan Abbott, Elyssa East, James W. Hall, J. Malcolm Garcia, Julie Smith, Joseph Bruchac, Pir Rothenberg, Luis Alberto Urrea, Domenic Stansberry, John O’Brien, S.J. Rozan, Asali Solomon, William Kent Krueger, Tim Broderick, Bharti Kirchner, Karen Karbo, and Lisa Sandlin.
 
One of Zoom Street Magazine’s Favorite Books of 2014
One of “100 Best Books for Readers Young and Old,” HispanicBusiness.com
 
“Perhaps the single most impressive feature of the collection is its range of voices, from Joyce Carol Oates’ faux innocent young family to Megan Abbott’s impressionable high school kids to the chorus of peremptory voices S.J. Rozan plants in a haunted thief’s head. Eat your heart out, Walt Whitman: These are the folks who hear America singing, and moaning and screaming.”—Kirkus Reviews

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781617751998
Publisher: Akashic Books (Ignition)
Publication date: 10/14/2013
Series: Akashic Noir Series
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 546
Sales rank: 280,450
File size: 5 MB

About the Author

Susan Straight has published eight novels. Her most recent, Between Heaven and Here, is the final book in the Rio Seco trilogy. Take One Candle Light a Room was named one of the best books of 2010 by the Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, and Kirkus Reviews, and A Million Nightingales was a finalist for the 2006 Los Angeles Times Book Prize. Her novel Highwire Moon was a finalist for the 2001 National Book Award. “The Golden Gopher” won the 2008 Edgar Award for Best Mystery Story. Her stories and essays have appeared in the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Salon, Harper’s, McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern, the Believer, Zoetrope: All-Story, Black Clock, and elsewhere. Straight has been awarded the Lannan Prize for Fiction, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and the Gold Medal for Fiction from the Commonwealth Club of California. She is distinguished professor of creative writing at the University of California, Riverside. She was born in Riverside, California, where she lives with her family, whose history is featured on susanstraight.com. 

Hometown:

Boston, Massachusetts

Date of Birth:

August 4, 1965

Place of Birth:

Dorchester, Massachusetts

Education:

B.A., Eckerd College, 1988; M.F.A., Florida International University, 1993

Read an Excerpt

USA NOIR

Best of the Akashic Noir Series


By Johnny Temple

Akashic Books

Copyright © 2013 Akashic Books
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-61775-184-4



INTRODUCTION

Writers on the Run


In my early years as a book publisher, I got a call one Saturday from one of our authors asking me to drop by his place for "a smoke." I politely declined as I had a full day planned. "But Johnny," the author persisted, "I have some really good smoke." My curiosity piqued, I swung by, but was a bit perplexed to be greeted with suspicion at the author's door by an unhinged whore and her near-nude john. The author rumbled over and ushered me in, promptly sitting me down on a smelly couch and assuring the others I wasn't a problem. Moments later, the john produced a crack pipe to resume the party I had evidently interrupted. This wasn't quite the smoke I'd envisaged, so I gracefully excused myself after a few (sober) minutes. I scurried home pondering the author's notion that it was somehow appropriate to invite his publisher to a crack party.

It may not have been appropriate, but it sure was noir.

From the start, the heart and soul of Akashic Books has been dark, provocative, well-crafted tales from the disenfranchised. I learned early on that writings from outside the mainstream almost necessarily coincide with a mood and spirit of noir, and are composed by authors whose life circumstances often place them in environs vulnerable to crime.

My own interest in noir fiction grew from my early exposure to urban crime, which I absorbed from various perspectives. I was born and raised in Washington, DC, and have lived in Brooklyn since 1990. In the 1970s and '80s, when violent, drug-fueled crime in DC was rampant, my mother hung out with cops she'd befriended through her work as a nearly unbeatable public defender. She also grew close to some of her clients, most notably legendary DC bank robber Lester "LT" Irby (a contributor to DC Noir), who has been one of my closest friends since I was fifteen, though he was incarcerated from the early 1970s until just recently. Complicating my family's relationship with the criminal justice system, my dad sued the police stridently in his work as legal director of DC's American Civil Liberties Union.

Both of my parents worked overtime. By the time my sister Kathy was nine and I was seven, we were latchkey kids prone to roam, explore, and occasionally break laws. Though an arrest for shoplifting helped curb my delinquent tendencies, the interest in crime remained. After college I worked with adolescents and completed a master's degree in social work; my focus was on teen delinquency.

Throughout the 1990s, my relationship with the urban underbelly expanded as I spent a great deal of time in dank nightclubs populated by degenerates and outcasts. I played bass guitar in Girls Against Boys, a rock and roll group that toured extensively in the US and Europe. The long hours on the road not spent on stage gave way to book publishing, which began as a hobby in 1996 with my friends Bobby and Mark Sullivan.

The first book we published was The Fuck-Up, by Arthur Nersesian—adark, provocative, well-crafted tale from the disenfranchised. A few years later Heart of the Old Country by Tim McLoughlin became one of our early commercial successes. The book was widely praised both for its classic noir voice and its homage to the people of South Brooklyn. While Brooklyn is chock-full of published authors these days, Tim is one of the few who was actually born and bred here. In his five decades, Tim has never left the borough for more than five weeks at a stretch and he knows the place, through and through, better than anyone I've met.

In 2003, inspired by Brooklyn's unique and glorious mix of cultures, Tim and I set out to explore New York City's largest borough in book form, in a way that would ring true to local residents. Tim loves his home borough despite its flagrant flaws, and was easily seduced by the concept of working with Akashic to try and portray its full human breadth.

He first proposed a series of books, each one set in a different neighborhood, whether it be Bay Ridge, Williamsburg, Park Slope, Fort Greene, Bed- Stuy, or Canarsie. It was an exciting idea, but it's hard enough to publish a single book, let alone commit to a full series. After we considered various other possibilities, Tim came upon the idea of a fiction anthology organized by neighborhood, each one represented by a different author. We were looking for stylistic diversity, so we focused on "noir," and defined it in the broadest sense: we wanted stories of tragic, soulful struggle against all odds, characters slipping, no redemption in sight.

Conventional wisdom dictates that literary anthologies don't sell well, but this idea was too good to resist—it seemed the perfect form for exploring the whole borough, and we got to work soliciting stories. We batted around book titles, including Under the Hood, before settling on Brooklyn Noir. The volume came together beautifully and was a surprise hit for Akashic, quickly selling through multiple printings and winning awards. (See pages 548–550 for a full list of prizes garnered by stories originally published in the Noir Series.)

Having seen nearly every American city, large and small, through the windows of a van or tour bus, I have developed a deep fondness for their idiosyncrasies. So for me it was easy logic to take the model of Brooklyn Noir—sketching out dark urban corners through neighborhood-based short fiction—and extend it to other cities. Soon came Chicago Noir, San Francisco Noir, and London Noir (our first of many overseas locations). Selecting the right editor to curate each book has been the most important decision we make before assembling it. It's a welcome challenge because writers are often enamored of their hometowns, and many are seduced by the urban landscape's rough edges. The generous support of literary superheroes like George Pelecanos, Laura Lippman, Dennis Lehane, and Joyce Carol Oates, all of whom have edited series volumes, has been critical.

There are now fifty-nine books in the Noir Series. Forty of them are from American locales. As of this writing, a total of 787 authors have contributed 917 stories to the series and helped Akashic to stay afloat during perilous economic times. By publishing six to eight new volumes in the Noir Series every year, we have provided a steady venue for short stories, which have in recent times struggled with diminishing popularity. Akashic's commitment to the short story has been rewarded by the many authors—of both great stature and great obscurity—who have allowed us to publish their work in the series for a nominal fee.

I am particularly indebted to all sixty-seven editors who have cumulatively upheld a high editorial standard across the series. The series would never have gotten this far without rigorous quality control. There also couldn't be a Noir Series without my devoted and tireless (if occasionally irreverent) staff led by Johanna Ingalls, Ibrahim Ahmad, and Aaron Petrovich.


This volume serves up a top-shelf selection of stories from the series set in the United States. USA Noir only scratches the surface, however, and every single volume has more gems on offer.

When I set out to compile USA Noir, I was delighted by the immediate positive responses from nearly every author I contacted. The only author on my initial invitation list who isn't included here is one I couldn't track down: the publisher explained to me that the writer was "literally on the run." While I'm disappointed that we can't include the story, the circumstance is true to the Noir Series spirit.

And part of me—the noir part—is expecting a phone call from the writer, inviting me over for a smoke.


(Continues...)

Excerpted from USA NOIR by Johnny Temple. Copyright © 2013 Akashic Books. Excerpted by permission of Akashic Books.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Introduction by Johnny Temple

PART I: TRUE GRIT

Dennis Lehane Dorchester
Animal Rescue Boston Noir

George Pelecanos Park View, N.W.
The Confidential Informant D.C. Noir

Susan Straight Downtown
The Golden Gopher Los Angeles Noir

Pete Hamill Park Slope
The Book Signing Brooklyn Noir

Joyce Carol Oates Kittatinny Mountains
Run Kiss Daddy New Jersey Noir

Terrance Hayes East Liberty
Still Air Pittsburgh Noir

Jerome Charyn Claremont/Concourse
White Trash Bronx Noir

PART II: AMERICAN VALUES

Maggie Estep Aqueduct Racetrack
Alice Fantastic Queens Noir

Bayo Ojikutu 77th&Jeffery
The Gospel of Moral Ends Chicago Noir

Tim McLoughlin Sunset Park
When All This Was Bay Ridge Brooklyn Noir

Barbara DeMarco-Barrett Costa Mesa
Crazy for You Orange County Noir

Reed Farrel Coleman Selden
Mastermind Long Island Noir

Karen Karbo S.E. Twenty-Eighth Avenue
The Clown and Bard Portland Noir

PART III: ROAD RAGE

Michael Connell y Mullholand Drive
Mulholland Dive Los Angeles Noir

Megan Abb bb ott Alter Road
Our Eyes Couldn’t Stop Opening Detroit Noir

Lee Child Chandler
Public Transportation Phoenix Noir

Jonathan Safran Foer Princeton
Too Near Real New Jersey Noir

James W. Hall Coconut Grove
Ride Along Miami Noir

Elyssa East Buzzards Bay
Second Chance Cape Cod Noir

PART IV: HOMELAND SECURITY

Don Winslow Pacific Beach
After Thirty San Diego Noir

J. Malcolm Garcia Troost Lake
Missing Gene Kansas City Noir

Julie Smith Garden District
Loot New Orleans Noir

Domenic Stansberry North Beach
The Prison San Francisco Noir

Joseph Bruchac Adirondacks
Helper Indian Country Noir

Laura Lipp man Locust Point
Easy As A-B-C Baltimore Noir

Pir Rothenberg Museum District
The Rose Red Vial Richmond Noir

PART V: UNDER THE INFLUENCE

Luis Alberto Urrea Paradise Valley
Amapola Phoenix Noir

John O’Brien Scotch 80s
The Tik Las Vegas Noir

S.J. Rozan St. George
Lighthouse Staten Island Noir

Asali Solomon West Philadelphia
Secret Pool Philadelphia Noir

William Kent Kruger West Side, St. Paul
Bums Twin Cities Noir

PART VI: STREET JUSTICE

T. Jefferson Parker Kearny Mesa
Vic Primeval San Diego Noir

Tim Broderick 40 Wall Street
Feeding Frenzy Wall Street Noir

Bharti Kirchner Wallingford
Promised Tulips Seattle Noir

Lawrence Block
The Ehrengraf Settlement Buffalo Noir

Lisa Sandlin Beaumont
Phelan’s First Case Lone Star Noir

Jeffery Deaver Hell’s Kitchen
A Nice Place to Visit Manhattan Noir

*Story order in final book subject to change

Customer Reviews