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3.29 of 5 stars 3.29  ·  rating details  ·  327 ratings  ·  68 reviews
Already a hit in France, a hard-boiled detective novel from the man T.C. Boyle calls "our foremost verbal wizard"

With impeccable skill, Robert Coover, one of America's pioneering postmodernists, has turned the classic detective story inside-out. Here Coover is at the top of his form; and Noir is a true page-turner--wry, absurd, and desolate.

You are Philip M. Noir, Privat
Hardcover, 224 pages
Published March 4th 2010 by Overlook Books (first published January 1st 2010)
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Jul 20, 2014 Paul rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: coover
3.75 stars rounded up.
My first Coover; and where to start? Well the title does give it away; it is an exploration of the Noir genre; send up, satire, tribute, a general culling of tropes. This is written in the second person which fits the type and the protagonist Philip M (M for Marlowe perhaps) Noir is suitably sleazy, drunk and beaten up on a regular basis. He has a smart secretary and a mysterious, veiled female client. The City is dreary, run down and mainly experienced at nights; there is

From the very first sentence You are at the morgue, Coover's choice of second person narration* hits you like a bullet & the pressure never really lets up because the YOU never leaves you: the reader is made a witness, an accomplice. How many thrillers employ that?! But it works in this highly stylised cinematic take on the private eye experience ( or rather "eyeing the privates"! ), involving the readers in its immediacy and as we walk the hazy landscapes of seedy bars, wet slippery alleyw

She looked like trouble and the smart thing probably would have been to send her packing. But the rent has to be paid, you don't have enough business to turn down anyone. And besides, you like her legs. So, instead, even though you knew her story before you heard it, the inevitable chronicle of sex, money, betrayal (what the f__k is the matter with the world anyway?), you asked her to tell it. From the beginning, you said.

Welcome to the Case of the Vanishing Black Widow, Robert Coover's

A Review Written in One Sentence.

Written with the rapid fire of a Tommy Gun, being fired long after the sun has gone in a dark and nameless city, streets and hidden unmapped alleyways, full of crooked cops, bums, whores, thieves, skimmers, pimps, hit men, pity criminals, career criminals, a city made for Noir, with its muted colors and rain, flophouses, dive and lounge bars with the same female singer nightly, pool halls, and hidden tunnels and passageways underneath the pavement, Robert Coo
John Hood
Bound: SunPost Weekly March 11, 2010
Noir Sung Blue
Robert Coover Gets with His Inner Gumshoe
JoHn Hood

You read a lot of hard-boiled fiction. Maybe even a little too much. The kinda little too much Cocteau called “just enough.” You cut your teeth on Chandler and Hammett and James M. Cain. Learned to crack wise through Mickey Spillane. You got your dark view of the world from Jim Thompson. Consider yourself an authority on Elmore Leonard. And you’ve spent a go
Have you ever finished a book and put it down thinking that you weren’t sure what exactly happened but that you kind of liked it? Such was my experience with Robert Coover’s Noir. Noir is nominally a mystery though it is surrealistic and amorphous one; much like a particularly vivid dream. This dream perspective is perhaps aided by second person narration that puts the reader in the drivers seat but neglects to provide them with steering wheel, gas pedal, or break.

The narration elevates Noir to
If you don't already get why it's such a great idea to narrate in 2nd person a book whose main character is named Philip M. Noir, referring to the reader in voice-over as "you" throughout, then this clever little knot of Cuisinarted crime cinema convention, plot, and cliche may not be for YOU...sweetheart.
Coover's book is more a meditation on the style of noir than a work of fiction in the style of noir. Coover's stylistic gymnastics--the rapid clipped sentence style, the poise of making the book appear in the readers mind in black and white--override whatever coherency we might desire from the plot. What's more, Coover takes an experimental style and infuses it with the jokes, darkness, and sex we expect from a noir tale, which is to say that as readers we turn the pages. Further, Coover leads u ...more
The whole book was like one of those really messed up dreams you have when you've got a killer cold and take one too many nyquils before going to bed. But, you know, in a good way.
I wanted to like Noir. Truly, I did.
I wanted to love it the way I love the books Coover is drawing on.

I love the hard boiled detective--my reading history will bear that out. I feel for the shamus, living case to case, job to job, waiting for that big break. Waiting for the break when the right dame with the right story two steps through the door. I'm fascinated by the conventions, and the way they're so frequently twisted, subverted, broken...

And then there's Noir.

You--the reader--are Philip
Noir is more novella than novel but it's a substantial achievement all the same. Coover spins his own wry, often absurd homage to the noir conventions and cliches of the late 1940s and early 1950s. There is a sense in which this is merely a postmodernist parody but Coover enjoys himself too much to descend to ridicule. He embraces the mise-en-scene of the dark and corrupt city in a typical tale of a washed up and busted down private eye pursuing the investigation that all he meets advise him to ...more
J.F. Juzwik
When you read this book about Philip Noir, you really are going to get a hefty dose of literary type noir in the process. Let's take a closer look.

Philip Noir is a private investigator. Using the word 'sleaze' to describe him is the understatement of the millenium, but he's a hell of a compelling character. He smokes, he drinks, he spends an inordinate amount of time in the city morgue, he hangs with the lowest of the low, he sleeps on his office sofa or in rain-soaked gutters, he is a proud, an
Jeremy Hannaford
While it had interesting ideas and imagery and certain an interesting way of telling the story. (All of the sentences start with "You went to the bar, looking for a drink") it was still extremely ridiculous in how the plot branched out into 20 other plots and how he constantly jumped around in the story.
An interesting read but certainly one I would never want to read again.

Here is one line explaining how ridiculous the dialogue was. He's talking about his "love" for the city.
"There were noxious
Txe Polon
Esta novela-experimento es una alucinada parodia de los clásicos del género negro. Empieza la novela con una típica situación del género (detective privado, mujer misteriosa con un encargo, marido asesinado), pero a partir de aquí todo se va volviendo paulatinamente surrealista: los dos ejes narrativos (marcados por el cambio de tiempo verbal pretérito/presente) se persiguen y alcanzan avanzando vertiginosamente, los recuerdos y las ensoñaciones se mezclan con ambos ejes, se nos presenta un plan ...more

For my full-length review, please visit Casual Debris.

Robert Coover's postmodern detective novel Noir is not a parody nor a satire of the noir detective mystery, though it does contain elements of both. Instead it is an examination of the sub-genre and its relationship with the reader, proposing that the genre is a wholly artificial fabrication designed to elude even the cleverest of deductive readers.

The novel is composed entirely in the second person, and follows the "you," private investigato
May 27, 2014 Randal rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Pulp fiction fans looking for a fresh start
Shelves: crime
Did you ever wonder what it would be like if James Joyce had written a pulp crime novel? No? Huh, me neither ... go figure. But if he had, it probably would have been a lot like this one.
Coover doesn't so much breathe life back into the genre as hit it with defibrillator paddles, all the while admiring what a good-looking corpse it is.
In a genre with as many conventions as the detective story, authors usually either fail to clear new trails or fall back on parody. Coover shows a different path v
I have no idea what I just read.
Mike Gilbert
Wow. This was different. Even for Coover. After all, how many books have YOU as the main character? Named PM Noir? (Could that be any less subtle?). Especially one with a heavy alcohol problem. And perhaps some other substances, too. Its hard to tell because it's all so blurry. And that secretary just showed up and started working. That's weird. Perhaps if you had some reasoning skills, or even a notepad, You could remember how you ended up here. On slab. In the morgue, with a dead coroner. And ...more
Coover, Robert. NOIR. (2010). **. I’ve been reading Coover’s books for a long time now, and they seem to be getting more and more hallucinatory. This, his latest novel, is a surreal, madcap sendup of the private detective novel. The detective is Philip M. Noir. Into his office, late one afternoon, steps a woman wearing a veil. She wants him to find out who killed her husband, and hands him a slip of paper and a roll of money. He is fascinated with her and forgets to ask her name, or address, or ...more
Will Tate
The overriding impression of many of the reviews posted on here is that "Noir", if it is a triumph at all, is one of style over substance. The plot is unfathomable and the resolution depends upon a bizarre, completely unforeseeable twist. But such reviews miss the point. "Noir" is supposed to be an exercise in style over substance, an homage to the genre of film noir, from the cliches of the femme fatale and the private eye in his trenchcoat and fedora to the vital importance Coover places on hi ...more
Bill Lawrence
I love Robert Coover's books and hard-boiled fiction, but I felt disappointed by Noir. It has a lot going for it, not least some good humour and twisting the form into the second person narrative rather than the first person and that works. Actually, it has some great jokes. But ultimately, the madness gets in the way of what should have been an excellent pastiche. So I liked it, but I much prefer The Public Burning or Gloomy Gus and the Chicago Bears, and I don't like American football.
Tom V
Our "hero," Noir, PI by trade, shambling schmuck by inclination and practice, is quite the character. If you like time-travel, black widows, crazy women with knives awaiting you in alleyways, subterranean passageways linking all of everywhere, jazz, blues, wearing your secretary's panties, and a few other conventions, then Noir is for you.

If you like hard-boiled, in-your-face, Mickey Spillane, it's not for you.

This offering had a lot of "literary-ness" going for it, but I guess I'm long on hope,
The success of this novella send-up of the hardboiled detective story is its enthralling use of second person, even though postmodern (post-Brechtian?) fiction is not supposed to enthrall. I've been as complete a postmodern Moonie for experimental fiction as anybody (and idolized writers like the Coover of Spanking the Maid, Pricksongs and Descants, and Pinnochio), but this struck me as a half-baked one-off, especially while reading "the real thing" Raymond Chandler's Long Goodbye more or less s ...more
Occasionally delightful, reliably show-offy, and sometimes enjoyable. I love a noir as much as anyone (probably more than most), and I love filigree and purposeless style all to heck. That said, almost too meandering.
Tim Anderson
Robert Coover is clearly on top form in this novel. Don't read it expecting the plot to make sense - this is a postmodern deconstruction on the hard boiled detective novel. Not as good as Paul Auster's New York Trilogy but still a sharp well written and very funny book.
If you are going to pastiche noir style (and such greats as Chandler and Hammett), then it probably helps if you can at least write your way out of a paper bag. Coover ticks all the boxes here, postmodernly throwing all the noir conventions into a pot to boil (femme fatale widow, sassy loyal secretary, PI-hating cops, incomprehensible plot twists, PI being beaten up frequently, etc) but doesn't do it with any wit or verve, or style above all, and succeeds only in making you want to reach for The ...more
take Sin City and flesh it out with beautifully dark prose; infuse with cartoon physics and then sprinkle some psychic confusion a la Jacob's Ladder. Voila!

High-concept, as usual for Coover -- an intellectual thrill but the undermining of narrative can wear on you. Some interesting hints at satire of the noir genre (the names, the characters, the detective's failure to figure out what's going on...). For the most imaginative metafiction, go back to his challenging but really provocative stuff -- "The Babysitter", The Public Burning, even the more straightforward (but still pleasantly trippy) The Universal Baseball Association J. Henry Waugh Prop..
Very Private Dick 1950's era style of writing and storytelling. I got very confused by the flashbacks within the current time that merged into hallucinations, but it was an interesting read.
Angus McKeogh
Great book. Well written in the noir, potboiler mystery style. Intriguing. Keeps you guessing and engaged. Was really pleasantly surprised. I loved this read.
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Robert Coover's F...: 2010 -- Noir 1 11 Nov 12, 2013 09:23AM  
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Born Robert Lowell Coover in Charles City, Iowa, Coover moved with his family early in his life to Herrin, Illinois, where his father was the managing editor for the Herrin Daily Journal. Emulating his father, Coover edited and wrote for various school newspapers under the nom-de-plume “Scoop.” He was also his high-school class president, a school band member, and an enthusiastic supporter of the ...more
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