Experiencing Noir at the Bar

Paula Gail Benson

I think about writing or film described as “noir,” the words bleak, cynical,
dark, and fatalistic come to mind. I’m immediately reminded of black and white
movies, usually produced during the 1930s or 1940s and often featuring Humphrey
Bogart. In a list of Bogart’s top 31 films, 13 of them are identified as noir.

Lawrence Block

In Noir at the Bar: An Oral History, written
by Keith Rawson in 2014, a more recent phenomenon of crime authors reading their
noir short stories or passages from longer works, originated in 2008 in Philadelphia,
then spread to St. Louis and Los Angeles. Events often take place in
conjunction with a mystery conference, but may be “stand alone” evenings
organized by local writers groups.

Dr. Warren Moore

at the Bar arrived in Newberry, South Carolina, a small college town near the
center of the state known for its famous Opera House, on October 10 when Dr. Warren Moore, an excellent author
and Professor of English at Newberry College, organized an event at Bar Figaro.
He selected the perfect location. Bar Figaro offered a tiffany domed, brick
walled, atmospheric backdrop for readings by professors Dr. Moore and Dr. David
Rachels; former students Kasey Stuart-Schroer and Karina Tarbell; and invited
guests, including Lawrence Block, who was spending a semester at the college as
Gerding Writer-in-Residence; Block’s daughter, Jill D. Block; North Carolina
author and filmmaker Eryk Pruitt; and S.A. Cosby, who read his Anthony
nominated story, “The Grass Beneath My Feet.”

author captivated the audience with somber, evocative works in the tradition of
Edgar Allan Poe. Their presentations offered the perfect entertainment for an
October evening. And, the door prizes given between readings added to the fun
and the introduction of readers to new authors.

Moore promises that more events will be planned for the future. I’m delighted
this program has made its way to our community and look forward to attending
more Noir at the Bar.