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Chicago Noir

3.14  ·  Rating details ·  161 ratings  ·  32 reviews
"The population of Chicago Noir is as diverse as any crowd at the lakefront fireworks show...As representative of Chicago as Oprah, MJ and a Gold Coast hot dog."
--Chicago Sun-Times

"Chicago Noir asks us to consider whether Chicago is, specifically, a noir city and, more significantly, how noir plays out in the current landscape...Its stories push us to think about how noir
Paperback, 275 pages
Published September 1st 2005 by Akashic Books
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Average rating 3.14  · 
Rating details
 ·  161 ratings  ·  32 reviews

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Oct 03, 2018 rated it it was ok
I have never visited or been to Chicago but I have read a lot of books that were set there. I cannot say Chicago is on my top list of place to visit but I was intrigued enough to pick up this Noir. This collection turned out to be a bit underwhelming for me. I felt a lot of the stories didn't give me a good feel of Chicago. Regardless, there were a few stand out stories that I loved, see below:
1. Goodnight Chicago and Amen by Luciano Guerriero
2. Destiny Returns by Achy Obejas
3. The Great Billik
Jun 25, 2008 rated it it was ok
Really cobbled together. A lot of the stories have absolutely no relevance to Chicago, thus making the title pretty irrelevant. To fully enjoy this book without becoming frustrated, please do the following:

1) Go to your local bookstore.
2) Find this book in the Mystery section.
3) Get a coffee (if said bookstore serves coffee).
4) Sit down with this book and your (hopefully black, bitter) coffee.
5) Flip to the story "Zero Zero Day" by Kevin Guilfoile.
6) Read the story.
7) Put the book back on the sh
Neal Litherland
Sep 30, 2012 rated it did not like it
A collection cannot be judged on the basis of any one story... but I stopped after I found the 5th story in a row predictable and lacking. While the attempt to get the feeling and language of the city was laudable, it felt jarring, with the stories being told in a rambling, ghetto street vibe that evoked less atmospher that annoyance. Nothing in the collection got my pulse running or made me want to keep reading, and while many of the stories might have been rough, none of them that I managed to ...more
Aug 04, 2010 rated it it was ok
Some of the stories in this anthology were better than others. The contributions from Kevin Guilfoile and Joe Meno are probably the best of the lot.

My main disappointment with this book was that very few of the stories did a good job of evoking Chicago. A writer has to do more than merely mention streets from a city map, I think.

Dec 10, 2009 rated it liked it
Finished out the year with this, yet another volume of supposed noir placed in a city, and this month, at this moment, it's Chicago. Which, yeah, you'd imagine is a pretty noir city, in the old school sense. And could be interesting in a new noir sense. So potential is offered. But the reviews online, briefly perused, didn't engender hope. Oh, Chicago Noir, you punch drunk, no-hoper, Cubs-fan of a city, better stagger on over here...

I don't know Chicago from squat. What do I know of the city of
May 19, 2012 rated it it was ok
I looked up "noir" on Merrium-Webster's web site: "crime fiction featuring cynical characters and bleak sleazy settings". My definition of "noir" is even narrower; it's tough for anyone not named "Bogart" to conform to it.

"Chicago Noir" definitely uses the broader definition of the word, which does not comform to my personal bias. However, what it DOES appear to do, even to this occasionally opinionated outsider, is BE Chicago, at least what I imagine the underside of it might be like. That is
Aug 16, 2009 is currently reading it
The sweetest thing about this collection of short stories (so far) is that is arranged geographically. In Chicago, the debate over where- exactly- a neighborhood begins or ends is engaged with a vehemence.

Honestly, the first several stories did not impress me- most leaning on the "we don't need a beginning, middle or end- just a dunk in the violent present" which reads as "schtick" for me when it comes to "hard-boiled" or "noir".

However, the most recent story I read involved a lot of shit I lov
Aug 03, 2019 rated it it was ok
After reading nearly 30 books in the Akashic Noir series, this one was a disappointment. I was expecting more than "Generic town, somewhat noir." I'm not going to stop reading the series, I'm just glad this wasn't my introduction to it.
Jill Frederickson
May 31, 2019 rated it liked it
This collection felt very uneven to me, the pieces that I liked I liked a lot and the ones I didn't I was annoyed with. I did love knowing so many of the settings as it made them easy to envision.
Feb 20, 2018 rated it it was ok
Noir vignettes set in different areas of my sweet home Chicago. Liked some of the stories...others, not so much.
Feb 01, 2010 rated it really liked it
As hit and miss as you'd expect from an anthology, but the hits hit pretty hard. Standouts include "Dear Mr. Kleczka" by Peter Orner, which made me miss my bus stop, "Zero Zero Day" by Kevin Guilfoile, "Alex Pinto Hears the Bell" by C.J. Sullivan, and "Bobby Kagan Knows Everything" by Adam Langer.
Also, it's really smartly put together and the last story, "The Oldest Rivalry" by Jim Orndorfer really floored me in the way it wrapped up everything that came before.
May 22, 2007 rated it liked it
This book was clearly put together too quickly. A couple of the stories aren't very good and one makes pretty much no sense (and I definitely give authors the benefit of the doubt on such matters). That said, there's at least one four star story in there, it's gritty, and it's Chicago. I'd love to see somebody try this again.
Rating: 3 1/2

I'm a bit surprised by the aggressively negative reviews from other Goodreaders. While I don't consider this a great collection, it's a far cry from terrible.

The criticism regarding a lack of Chicago-specificity in some of the stories is a fair one. But that doesn't make them bad stories. I appreciate the variety of characters, crimes, and eras.

Nov 20, 2016 rated it it was ok
The editor and authors seem to be working to a different definition of Noir than me (and most other reviewers, it seems). 'Chicago Crime' might have been more accurate, but even more accurate would be 'Mostly poor crime-type stories, sometimes only tangentially linked to Chicago'. One or to half-decent stories, but nothing memorable or that I wanted to be longer than it was.
Apr 10, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: mystery
Maybe it's nostalgia, but I truly liked most of the stories. Though most were set on the South Side (I grew up on the West Side... the BEST side. Sorry I couldn't resist) the authors have the patter down, the denizens dead on and the city dark, dirty and cheap. That's noir, baby!
Matthew McClintock
Feb 26, 2011 rated it it was ok
Having moved from Chicago after 15+ years residence I was surprised to find the nostalgia so strong, particularly the way I missed the gritty side of things. The stories I've sampled in this collection provide the voices and attitudes I'd forgotten were so characteristic.
Yeah, not for me I guess.
Amy Gilchrist Thorne
Oct 14, 2007 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: noir fans
Shelves: nontech, fiction, chicago, own
I really liked the idea of the book. But when I bought it, I forgot that I'm not always fond of reading noir. So, there were some stories I didn't like so much, but I did enjoy several.
Brad keil
Feb 02, 2008 rated it really liked it
I bought this in an airport because I finished my other books way too fast. It has some really great short stories about my favorite city.
May 11, 2008 rated it really liked it
A varied mix, and does a nice job of capturing the underside of my former home.
Audra (Unabridged Chick)
Pretty disappointing. One stand out story by Achy Obejas; the rest fairly meh.
Jan 16, 2010 rated it did not like it
I gave this a chance.
I read the first four stories
Then I gave it up.
Dwayne Ackley
May 16, 2010 rated it liked it
I miss the Windy City!
Apr 05, 2011 rated it liked it
Fine book, I just can never give short story collections a very high rating since there's nothing to get attached to.
Aug 18, 2011 rated it it was ok
While the Boston collection had maybe one or two weak stories, this one had about 3 or 4 stories that were good and maybe only 2 that were very good. I'm a little disappointed.
Aug 28, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: books-read-2011
A couple of stories read well, but most of these read like literary Writers (all of them with a capital "W") trying to write genre.
Jul 29, 2015 marked it as to-read
Shelves: crime

Bombastic Neal Pollack collect's riveting noir stories from Chicago's hottest young writers.


Steve Saunders
Aug 25, 2015 rated it liked it
Good stories - nice and dark!
Ann Tonks
Feb 23, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: usa, crime
Having read Venice Noir and finding some great stories in the collection, after the first half a dozen in this group, I hadn't connected so I just stopped.
Jun 18, 2008 rated it liked it
Good read. Fun, dark short stories each featuring Chicago neighborhoods as their backdrop.
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Neal Pollack’s first book, The Neal Pollack Anthology of American Literature, was published in 2000, becoming an (almost) instant cult classic. His debut novel, Never Mind the Pollacks, hit shelves in 2003, and was shamelessly promoted by his band, The Neal Pollack Invasion. In 2007, he published Alternadad, a best-selling memoir. In 2010, Pollack became a certified yoga teacher and published Stre ...more

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