Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Smooth Criminals 2012

January 1st to December 31st of 2012
Ladies and gentlemen, it's with unnecessary fanfare (again) and great pride that I am launching the Dead End Follies Smooth Criminals 2012 Challenge. Inspired by Sarah's Challenge of last year (which I am doing this year too and am encouraging you to do so, Sarah and I aren't competing ) and Dennis Lehane's statement that  the social novel went into crime fiction, I am introducing to you Smooth Criminals, a challenge that will attempt to close the gap a little in between literary and crime. 
Only eight books this year, so it's appealing for most people to participate. If the participation is good this year, I might just repeat it in 2013, with ten books instead of eight.
The rules are:
  1. You have from January 1st to December 31st of 2012 to complete the challenge. If you're a blogger it means to read the eight books and to write a review about them. You have the whole year to enter, but it finishes on December 31st for everybody.
  2. Yes, if you're a blogger, you have to review the books. I don't care how long it is, but since the point of it is to think on the parallels on both "genres", a review is mandatory. Also, a link to this post in the reviews isn't mandatory, but it's strongly appreciated. Will make the number of challenge participants grow exponentially. Posting the logo of the challenge at the bottom of your review would also be cool.
  3. While I have ultimately no control over your choice of books, if you want to play by the rules and are unsure about a category, please email me at benoitlelievre (at) gmail (dot) com with SMOOTH CRIMINALS in the subject like and I'll gladly discuss it with you. One of the goals is to make you do some research, but I don't mind helping. Also, there's nothing in this list you can't find on Google or Wikipedia.
  4. Fiction and narrative non-fiction are acceptable entries.
  5. I don't mind if you use books from other challenges in this one. Just try to keep it fun and research some originals also.
  6. You can sign up using the Mr. Linky widget
So the categories are....
  • Hardboiled Classic - What is hardboiled? It's up to you to find out. I'll drop two names though. Chandler, Hammett, rings a bell? There are other hardboiled novelist (better even), you just have to look them up.
  • Noir Classic - There is a difference is between hardboiled and noir. When you look at it, it's rather evident, but I'll let you investigate it for now. Two pioneers of the style are James M. Cain and David Goodis. You can start there.
  • Prison Book - It can be a novel, or it can be narrative non-fiction. Prison is a very powerful narrative device and a lot of great writers that have written books about it.
  • Book written by a writer who did time - Writers often provoke and often live within the margins of society. There's a rather large number of them that have been prison walls. Read one of them, see if it influenced his/her writing.
  • Book with psychopath protagonist - What's a psychopath exactly? I'll leave you do find out. You'll see there is an impressive number of them in the history of literature.
  • Gothic Novel - That deserves some explanation. The concept of literary genres really took its stride when Gothic fiction was invented. It's debatable that there were older examples, but it's Gothic that changed the game. It birthed many genres like Southern Gothic, crime, science-fiction and dark romance, but it's still a genre going strong today. You might want to read an older Gothic novel (Walpole, Poe, etc.) or a more recent one, but it has to be Gothic. No, Southern Gothic isn't a part of this. It's a different thing.
  • Classic where the plot revolves around a crime - Easy peasy. It just can't be an all out crime novel. Not every literary classic turn around a crime but maybe twenty or thirty percent are.
  • The "Why the hell am I doing this to myself?" book - Read a book that looks menacing from the store shelves. A novel (or narrative non-fiction) that looks like the most daunting task to you. PICK UP THAT THING AND READ IT, SOLDIER!
Don't be scared to sign up. I won't eat you alive if you don't. It's all fun and enlightening discussions. Please also, spread the word on the social media if you like the challenge. Google+, Facebook, Twitter, post about it on your blog, etc. The more we are, the merrier we will be. I will post my selections for the challenge next week, I am also highly anticipating to read yours. If I don't already follow your blog, don't be scared to post your selections in the comments for everybody to see.
For more information and to sign-up, please see this post.