A selection of stories about Miami noir that you cant ignore
Chris Joseph Stancato
Miami Noir, Edited by Les Standiford, Published by Akashic Books, 2007
For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing—Romans (Ch. VII v. 19)
It is only fitting that Miami Noir begin with a biblical gateway. A lead into brash fiction, bold language, and hard liquored love as ambiguous as a bar fly.
This past summer, I was listening to a program on my local public radio station (WLRN) called, Sundial. On that show Les Standiford, a Miami author of several novels and the editor for this book, was discussing the Magic City’s literary diet of crime. He mentioned Miami Noir, discussed its contents, and essentially, he had me sold to those stories and their authors.
Miami is a cinematic tale to two cities, but unlike other metropolises, the cultures weave—in and out from the inner-city to the suburban sidewalks. Some days this formidable fabric feels like a comfortable shirt, other days like an overcoat.
From the beginning… (Don’t worry, I’m a Miamian, while I share this history –shoulder to shoulder— I am on more shallow ground than hallowed, a herald of this city.) The inception and invasion of Miami is not visible from the neon glow on the city’s mirror, but on the back side. Our timeline is revealed when parts of the mirror shatter into broken reflective stories.
We are, at times, living in a paradise stranded on a peninsula. Some days treading in the water, some days meddling on the land, and some days we beckon the call for our Babylonian state. The plurality of paradise is one more layer, or page to be written, from being thin-blooded theorist: dire consequences blow up like a tagged car insurance billboard with “305 till I die!”
The moral ambiguous map of Miami is a politician’s dream: a daily redistricting to the right and wrong. Amble into any neighborhood and you’ll find made in Miami news. Places of particular interest to hear stories are those drinking cafecitos at a cafetería ventana, a liquid brunch on South Beach, or street corner crowds smoking. There’s always one nefarious character, a conversation terrorist who knows nothing about the discussion but parachutes into the dialogue with direct knowledge. In a matter of time, this person, a grifter or groveler, delivers their news of self-interest.
And this is our daily bread, our Miami noir that you can’t ignore.
This broad introduction for an anthology of short-stories by Miamian authors, continues with the following highlights from Miami Noir: (The stories in this book are accompanied by location.) “Blown Away” by Anthony Dale Gagliano (Homestead) places the reader after a hurricane in a timeline equally turbulent. “Swap Out” by Preston L. Allen (Miami-Dade Correctional Center) presents street-prose about two men in a deep discussion of friendship, marriage, and mercy. “The Swimmers” by Jeffrey Wehr (South Beach) a desperate tale of freedom, the expense of liberation, and the reality of smuggler’s disposable cargo. And finally, “The Last of Lord Jitters” by David Beaty (South Miami) is about lovers, brothers, and the eye of the past like a hurricane—opening to a pool where an alligator is the elephant in the barricaded home.
The arrangement of authors is attributed to a selection in the community—this is what every reader outside of this vicinity wants. I would hope in the future, the arrangement of writers will be a contemporary group reflective in the new decade. Miami changes faster than most cities, but we’re not always changing with transients but rather location. Thus, Miami noir is knocking with enclaves of literary post in open mic nights, theatre groups reciting scripts, storytelling musicians busking, and poets/spoken word performers laying down lyrics like folk artists.
Miami Noir gives the reader creative cornerstones, block by block, with chapters that chew away at a bone found in the everglades. If you find the latter example cynical, and the chew predetermined, then you’ll enjoy the questionable actions by the players in these pages.
Chris Joseph Stancato, Paperback Writer and Poet