Settle down. Have a drink. And listen up. You’ll be glad you did.
We’ve all heard of film noir, that genre of Hollywood crime movies from the 1940’s and 1950’s with the dark, brooding protagonist, the cynical attitudes, and the sexual motivations. But have you experienced noir fiction? And are you ready for Noir at the Bar Hillsborough: Books, Booze, and Broken Promises, hosted by Tracey Reynolds and Eryk Pruitt, on Thursday, July 25th, at Yonder: Southern Cocktails & Brew in Hillsborough, NC?
Wikipedia defines “noir fiction” as “a literary genre closely related to hard-boiled fiction, with a distinction that the protagonist is not a detective, but instead either a victim, a suspect, or a perpetrator. Other common characteristics include a self-destructive protagonist.
A typical protagonist of noir fiction is dealing with the legal, political or other system, which is no less corrupt than the perpetrator, by whom the protagonist is either victimized and/or has to victimize others on a daily basis, leading to a lose-lose situation.
If you google Noir at the Bar, you will discover events all across the country in such places as Los Angeles, St. Louis, New York City, Philadelphia, Chicago, New Orleans, Denver, Portland, and — yes — Hillsborough. Indeed, to quote Keith Rawson, “Over the last seven years, dozens of Noir at the Bar events have sprung up around the country, and it has become something of a phenomenon in the crime-fiction community.”
On Thursday, July 25th, we had the pleasure of attending Noir at the Bar Hillsborough, produced by Eryk Pruitt and hosted by Tracey Reynolds at Yonder: Southern Cocktails & Brew in Hillsborough. Published authors of noir fiction take turns stepping up to the microphone and reading from their work.
Some read an episode from a novel; others read a self-contained short story. On this night we heard from the works of eight authors: J.G. Hetherton, Suzanne Crain Miller, Eryk Pruitt, Judy Marie, Angel Colon, Erik Arneson, S.A.Cosby, and Jen Conley. Some read from a published book of their work; others read from a typewritten manuscript; still others read from a document on their phone.
We heard references to such things as “girly pink and black duct tape,” people with barcode tattoos, and — yes — snorting Viagra. We heard a graphic description of the slaughtering of a pig by a grandson of an IRA hitman. We heard a reference to “the least skilled dentist east of the Mississippi.” We heard about a victim’s need to “do as he says or fight back.” And we heard a piece of noir fiction in which the protagonist constantly quotes from Shakespeare.
This was our third such encounter — we had attended sessions of Noir at the Bar in Durham in 2015 and 2016 — and it has always been entertaining. In our experience, Noir at the Bar has always included raffles and trivia contests. This year was no exception.
In 2015, we “made like bandits,” winning three books and a video. This year, we came away empty handed (but quite entertained).
Yonder is a comfortable pub with a laid-back “artsy” atmosphere located at 114 W. King St. in downtown Hillsborough. The bartender is friendly, and the drinks are not over-priced.
There are several restaurants within walking distance, and Yonder is perfectly okay with customers bringing in food. We look forward to attending future noirs at this bar.
NOTE: This was the first ever Noir at the Bar at Yonder. The Eryk Pruitt-Tracey Reynolds team began producing the event in 2013 at a bar in downtown Durham called 106 Main. In 2017, they moved the event to King Street Bar in Hillsborough. Earlier this year, Eryk Pruitt and his wife, Lana Pierce, took over the lease, renaming it “Yonder: Southern Cocktails & Brew.” In Pruitt’s words: “Lana and I took over management of King Street Bar in mid-November and started new programs (live music, pub quiz, open mic, etc.). The community supported it, so when the owner of King Street Bar decided to move away and close the bar, we took over the lease.
“Yonder reflects my admiration for Southern literary tradition. The cocktails are hand crafted and we keep the beers local. We are part of Hillsborough’s Art Walk and feature local art on our walls that rotates monthly. We host live music every Friday and Saturday. We are excited to be part of Hillsborough’s growth!” said Pruitt.
Pamela Vesper has been a Raleigh resident for more than 20 years. A local attorney for licensed professionals, when she’s not in court, Pam can be found watching or participating in local theater productions or enjoying the vibrant Raleigh music and craft beer scene. She also loves indie and foreign films and was an anchor on the local cable show, Movie Minutes. Pam has an opinion on just about everything; just ask her. Kurt Benrud is a graduate of Cary High School and N.C. State University, and he has taught English at both. He first became involved in local theater in 1980. He has served on the board of directors for both the Cary Players and the Cary Playwrights’ Forum. He is also a volunteer reader with Triangle Radio Reading Service. Click here to read their reviews for Triangle Review and Triangle Arts and Entertainment.