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Venice Noir (Akashic Noir) [Paperback]

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Book Description

7 Aug 2012 Akashic Noir
Venturing beyond St. Mark's Place, the Doges Palace, the Rialto Bridge and all across the still but deadly waters of the lagoon, stories from writers from all corners of the globe evoke the magic, the decay and the beauty and despair of a city that has always fascinated its hordes of visitors. A dizzy waltz of sun and noir between the countless bridges, gondolas and historical landmarks will mean you will never think of Venice in the same way again.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: AKASHIC BOOKS (7 Aug 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1617750735
  • ISBN-13: 978-1617750731
  • Product Dimensions: 2 x 13 x 20.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 885,504 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Lightless 25 Jun 2012
Format:Kindle Edition
For fans of the film genre 'noir' means a deceptive dame leading some poor sap by his libido into murdering her husband, with said sap ending up regretting it in prison, or his grave. In black and white. I'm guessing a looser definition is going to apply in this collection. Editor Jakubowski introduces and then we're into the first section - four stories involving Venetian residents. They're all written by Italians and being about people still living in Venice have a tendency towards Mestre and Cannaregio. The Ghetto recurs too, as does casual racism, if in the distancing guise of unreliable narrators. The anti-Chinese tendency here is in keeping with Venetian authenticity too. Each story is better than its predecessor, in style and content, with the final author, Francesca Mazzucato even making you want to read more by her. All the authors in this bit seem little translated into English and all seem to want, judging by their biographies anyway, to stress their transgressive tendencies. The next section is called Shadows of the Past but these are not historical tales, although they do rack up the supernatural element, with Michelle Lovric and Maxim J. himself contributing a story each. But it's the last story in this section, Desdamona Undicesima by Isabella Santacroce that finally gives us something truly dark and disturbing. From then on it's pretty much all tales of tourists meeting grisly ends. The only light relief coming when one of them arrives at their hotel near Piazza San Marco to find three Alfa Romeo police cars blocking the street outside. Oh, and there's a Murano-glass penis plot-device too. The standout in this sequence is the story of a bitter old woman who has her own way of dealing with the tourist problem, and it's also one of two stories told from the resident rat perspective. Read more ›
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 3.5 out of 5 stars  2 reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Spooky and unsettling... 11 July 2012
By D. R. Warnock - Published on
"Venice Noir", an anthology of short stories about the 'City of Bridges', certainly lives up to the genre: each story tells of a dark, mysterious, and deadly Venice that few, if any, tourists or natives experience, simmering and reeking in the canals and cruising in the vaporettos. Each tale brings you to the deep and dark parts of 'La Serenissima' that you probably do not want to see or the things you do not want to find floating. Venice is sinking and these tales, however fabricated they may be, add to the eeriness of a city slowly declining into a dark hole of past glory and present depravity. Venice can be a beautiful city of sunlit canals and incredible art, but you won't find any of that in this collection.

In the first story, "Cloudy Water" by Matteo Righetto, we learn of the bloodshed and death that follows those who steal the fetid and stinking mollusks brewing in the toxic waste of the factories to sell to unwary and ignorant tourists in Naples, Slovenia, Thailand and beyond. In "Lido Winter" by Maxim Jakubowski (the editor of the anthology) we learn what happens when death follows you to a place previously filled with blissful moments. Several stories are told from the point of view of animals: a rat searching for a home for the imminent birth of her babies stumbles upon a horrifying (even for a rat) scene in "Tourists for Supper" by Maria Tronca. From Mike Hodges in "Signor Gauke's Tongue" we learn of revenge extracted by a mysterious killer for a crime committed by a "prominent New York stock broker and investment adviser" - a revenge many will find appropriate. From passion gone bad to sweet retribution and a touch of semi-erotic overtones, these are stories you will not soon forget.

While some of the stories are a tiny bit beyond the realm of credulity and do not provide an all encompassing look at Venice, many are a fascinating look at a city with secrets. The translation from Italian on many of them by Judith Forshaw is excellent - you know she has been faithful to the original because the creepiness is intact. Included are maps of Venice with the specific locations of each story marked as well as short biographies of the authors. It's apparent that each author has a tortured love for this city, but finds a certain delight in turning over the stone to see what scurries out from underneath.

"Venice Noir" is just one of many in the Akashic Noir series. From Baltimore to Istanbul to San Francisco to Toronto (and more), each city will have plenty of bizarre and strange stories. If those stories are anything like these, you may want to keep to the well-lit streets and well-known spaces because you never know who or what may be lurking around the corner or in the basement.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Riding a Gondola Through the Dark 2 Jun 2012
By IsolaBlue - Published on
The "Noir" series is hugely popular and rightfully so since the short stories are the perfect read for the odd moment here and there: doctor's waiting rooms, subway rides, sitting in a parked car while awaiting someone. The quality of the fiction varies from "city" to "city" (edition to edition) depending on who is writing and who is editing. Sometimes the draw is the city itself. It is often more enjoyable to read about a city and setting we know well. The "Noir" series gives readers a wide choice that sprawls across the world from Havana to Delhi. Without having read every book in the series, it is hard to say where "Venice Noir" fits in. It is, however, no where near as good as "San Francisco Noir" edited by Peter Maravelis, but is better in many ways than "Boston Noir," for instance.

Maxim Jakubowski edits "Venice Noir" and just the choice of city gives him a step up from the beginning. For, after all, isn't Venice the home of a great deal of literary and artistic noir? Think of the classic 1973 film "Don't Look Now" based on a short story by Daphne du Maurier or the 1981 novel "The Comfort of Strangers" by Ian McEwan, set in a city without a name but one which most readers will identify with Venice. Of course, there is always Thomas Mann's "Death in Venice," which - even if not thought of in the noir genre - certainly has the feel.

What is surprising is that it took so long for a "Venice Noir" to appear. But now that it is here and available to readers, what's the story? It can be said that it runs in the middle of the pack in terms of the "Noir" series as a whole. It is not disappointing, but it somehow doesn't live up to our expectations. There is a great deal of good, entertaining writing in this book, but not one story jumps out and proclaims itself a classic. A few days after reading the book, most of the tales are fading from mind.

For those who have been to Venice, there will be a great deal to revisit by reading these stories. If one hasn't visited the storied city, the tales will intrigue and perhaps lead to fantasies of a vacation there . . . or not. The main problem with "Venice Noir" seems that there is a thin line between noir and horror that doesn't exist in all of the "Noir" series. Some may debate that the line crosses and naturally blends; others may think that noir is a more subtle, sophisiticated and psychological exploration of horror.

Are you rigid in your definition of noir? If so, skip this book. If you are open to noir being a bit more of a fluid genre, then please - step right in! Mind the canal! We're in Venice, after all . . .
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