In true Leadbelly fashion, I woke up this morning convinced that the blues had got me; it must have been the impact of too much noir in books and on television over the weekend. What is it in human nature that always pushes us towards ever-darker stimulation? I am reminded of the fashion for gothic in the late eighteenth century, when there was plenty of noir about to titillate readers ever more hungry for the gruesome, the erotic and the oneiric. Fortunately for sanity, there is always an antidote to this and parodies of noir inevitably follow too great an emphasis on the nastier, seamier side of life. Jane Austen’s splendid satire on the gothic novel, Northanger Abbey, must have been very refreshing to readers suffering too much of a bad thing.
When I have had enough of the mean streets of the gritty city and the jaundiced and jaded detective soured by too much corruption amongst criminals and police superiors, I start looking for something lighter to compensate. Too much Philip Kerr? Perhaps I’ll come up with some Birmingham Blanc. Nothing like a bit of fun when the blues get you.