Alright, I used to perpetrate some literary criticism around this place. [Slaps wall.] Seems like I could still. This is going to be very flimsy because I’m just banging it out, because I might want some of it later, more worked out.

Over at the dying bird, Jeet Heer asks a good question: “Has anyone written about the genre of the “hippy noir”? Altman’s Long Goodbye, Big Lebowski, Inherent Vice, The Nice Guys. Are there others? An interesting little niche.”

He got good responses. Me: Philip K. Dick, Scanner Darkly, not just because it fits the bill but because of Dick himself, writing those weird letters to the FBI. He was a sad, harassed hippy noir detective. He lived the nightmare. That’s gotta count. Once you’ve got Dick, you add in others like Jonathan Lethem, Gun, With Occasional Music.

I’ve got further thoughts about the likes of Lethem but, first, flip it. Just as hippy noir is often good, the reason G.K. Chesterton’s Father Brown stories are invariably bad is that they are ‘hippy puncher noir’, so to speak. [click to continue…]