I Speak of the City: Peter Maravelis

Akashic Noir Books
Originally uploaded by geminipoet

Excellent fiction reading last night at Moe’s Books to celebrate the newest addition to the Akashic Noir Series: San Francisco Noir 2. All of the readers were excellent with distinct pieces that captured a slice of the City we don’t see (or straight up ignore) when the lights go down: Janet Dawson delivered a modern-day fairy tale with a re-imagining of Hansel and Gretel as “Hank & Gretta” living up on Geary Street; David Corbett’s story of a love/hate triangle gone wrong in Hunters Point moved with crisp dialogue and volatile emotions; and John Shirley came through with a slice of punk-noir details a heist so well-rehearsed, so meticulously planned that you just know everything is going to go wrong.

Editor Peter Maravelis framed each of these stories with a historical time line that examined the City by the Bay with a lens that went beyond the ordinary, highlighting the role of immigration, body trafficking, gentrification, class divisions, labor strife and topography in the noir that is San Francisco. The only thing he left out was the lust of city living, the way we can become so enamored with the beauty of city that we overlook all the ugly and nasty we know exists under the touristy veneer, but this mad love came through in the manner that Peter detailed those histories that lie beneath San Francisco and raised them up not as a mutli-faceted jewel but a cracked mirror to examine ourselves in.

For the first volume of San Francisco Noir, one of Akashic Books’ city-based mystery anthologies, editor Peter Maravelis brought together a team of writers to write original stories about the sinister side of the City. For this sequel he has unearthed classic tales by writers from the last two centuries such as Ambrose Bierce, Mark Twain, and Dashiell Hammett, as well as modern ones leading right up to 2009.

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