Noir Master: Chester Himes

ALL-TIME AMERICAN WRITERS TOURNAMENT

Chester-Himes

AMONG the writers we’ll be considering for the remaining slots in the tourney when it resumes are several noir “pulp” writers– notable among them Kenneth Fearing and Chester Himes.

Himes created two unforgettable pulp fiction characters: Harlem detectives Coffin Ed and Grave Digger Jones.

Chester Himes also was a master of vibrant description– not overwhelming the reader with detail but using just the right colorful words and phrases– like a painter using daubs of paint– to make the writing seem to jump from the page. An example:

A car coming fast down 127th Street burnt rubber in an earsplitting shriek to keep from running him down. Seen in the car’s headlights, his sweating face was bright red and muscle-ridged; his blue eyes were black with panic; his grayshot hair in wild disorder.

(From The Real Cool Killers.”)

TheRealCoolKillers

Note the subtle use of euphony in these two sentences: “shriek to keep”; “his blue eyes were black with panic.” A bit poetic.

A writer worth study for those wishing to reinvigorate the writing art, and reconnect it to the populace at large.

BlindManWithAPistol
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