I am delighted to welcome my guest blogger, author J. L. Abramo
WHY CRIME FICTION
by J. L. Abramo
Crime fiction, film and television are extremely popular among readers and viewers worldwide. Fiction writers are often categorized, listed and known for their particular genre—be it crime, mystery, romance, horror, science fiction. Genre is defined by Merriam-Webster as a category of artistic, musical, or literary composition characterized by a particular style, form, or content. And as stated by Joyce Carol Oates in The New York Review of Books, “In genre fiction there is an implied contract between writer and reader that justice of a kind will be exacted; ‘good’ may not always triumph over ‘evil’, but the distinction between the two must be honored.”
I have often been asked why I chose mystery and crime fiction as my literary genre. It might be more accurate to say that the genre chose me; and to add that a particular genre is simply the vehicle in which the writer journeys through the landscape he or she is compelled to explore. In my experience as a reader it is the theme and not the plot of a novel that carries universal and lasting impact; making the particular genre secondary to the thoughts and feelings which the writer is consciously or unconsciously driven to express. Crime and Punishment, Les Misérables, A Tale of Two Cities are, on the surface, crime novels; classic literary works that greatly influenced generations of readers and future writers; not as a consequence of their genre, but for their examination of the trials and tribulations of the human experience. Similarly, the same holds for visual art and music. A timeless painting or a lasting musical composition is one that leaves a profound impression on the viewer or the listener; be it renaissance, religious, impressionist, avant-garde, symbolic, dada, classical, folk, country, blues, jazz or rock and roll.
That being said, the selection of crime fiction as my vehicle of choice was a consequence of my exposure to literary works which examined crime and its ramifications and which greatly influenced me as a young man and adult—Dostoyevsky, Arthur Conan Doyle, Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett, James M. Cain. And by exposure to films like The Big Sleep, The Maltese Falcon, On The Waterfront, Anatomy of a Murder, Witness for the Prosecution, The French Connection, The Godfather and countless others. And I have always found it to be the genre I am most adept at and most comfortable in—something akin to the well broken-in pair of shoes you prefer slipping into.
In the latest work, Coney Island Avenue, I employ the crime fiction genre to revisit the Brooklyn neighborhood of my youth. It is a continuation of the novel Gravesend, which moved my focus from the San Francisco and Los Angeles of the Jake Diamond private eye novels to the Sixty-first Precinct in Gravesend, where I was born and raised. Once again I take the journey in the vehicle I feel most comfortable travelling aboard.
So, the question arises—are we, practitioners of the written word and members of professional guilds like the Mystery Writers of America, Private Eye Writers of America and the International Thriller Writers, novelists or crime novelists. And the simple answer is we are writers, willing to use any means of transport which will help us tell our tale and help entice readers to come along for the ride.
About Coney Island Avenue
THE DOG DAYS OF AUGUST IN BROOKLYN and the detectives of the 61st Precinct are battling to keep all hell from breaking loose.
Lives are taken in the name of greed, retribution, passion and the lust for power—and the only worthy opponent of this senseless malevolence is the uncompromising resolve to rise above it, rather than descend to its depths.
The heart pounding sequel to the acclaimed novel GRAVESEND—from Shamus Award-winner J. L. Abramo—CONEY ISLAND AVENUE continues the dramatic account of the professional and personal struggles that constitute everyday life
for the dedicated men and women of the Six-One—and of the saints and sinners who share their streets. Coney Island Avenue is an emotionally packed chronicle of good and evil, triumph and tragedy and—just below the surface—Abramo’s narrative is a universal tale of fathers, mothers, sons and daughters.
About the author
J. L. Abramo was born in the seaside paradise of Brooklyn, New York on Raymond Chandler’s fifty-ninth birthday. Abramo is the author of Catching Water in a Net, winner of the St. Martin’s Press/Private Eye Writers of America prize for Best First Private Eye Novel; the subsequent Jake Diamond novels Clutching at Straws, Counting to Infinity, and Circling the Runway; Chasing Charlie Chan, a prequel to the Jake Diamond series; Gravesend, Brooklyn Justice and Coney Island Avenue.
Abramo’s short fiction has appeared in a number of anthologies including Murder Under the Oaks, winner of the Anthony Award.
Circling the Runway was the recipient of a Shamus Award presented by the Private Eye Writers of America in 2016.