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America Is Elsewhere: The Noir Tradition in the Age of Consumer Culture

by by Erik Dussere

Choice In this study of noir in film and fiction, Dussere (American Univ.) argues that hard-boiled detective fiction opposed the burgeoning capitalist-consumer culture with authenticity, an idealistic desire abstractly based on what is not. Finding the supermarket (the domain of the domestic housewife) and the gas station (a hangout for men in greasy clothes) the primary symbols in films made from novels written in this genre, the author roots noir in masculine identity and misogyny. Taking works of Thomas Pynchon and Chester Himes as examples, Dussere supposes that the conspiracy genre of the 1960s grew out of noir; then he sees postmodernism searching for authenticity in cyberpunk, making the only hero the hacker who is able to throw a monkey wrench into the global corporation and stop the machinery. Dussere concludes that authenticity is impossible and the desire for it springs from a dissatisfaction with the fakery of life in a consumer culture where only things and gadgets matter. Dussere's introductory chapter, which explains the terms and outlines the thesis, is fascinating reading. This book goes a long way toward explaining where postmodernism came from and what it is attempting to do. Summing Up: Highly recommended. All readers. M. S. Stephenson University of Texas at Brownsville

Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.