Arts and Entertainment

'Seattle Noir:' An anthology from the underworld

Short fiction from Seattle
Short fiction from Seattle's underbelly — the latest in a myriad of noir anthologies from Akashic Books.
— image credit: Courtesy Photo/Akashic Books

Featuring short, edgy fiction on the Emerald City’s seamy underbelly.

Every city has its underworld.

The gritty, grimy underbelly, where the town's more shady characters congregate and carouse, is mysteriously everpresent. It’s a place of both anguish and envy, and seemingly much more exciting than a city’s sanitized surface.

Akashic Books, a New York-based publisher, has created an award-winning series of original noir anthologies based on that very place in cities all over the globe. It all started with “Brooklyn Noir” in 2004, and has grown to include an immense international list — from “Paris Noir” to Havana to Rome and Istanbul — in addition to most of the major metropolitan areas of America — Las Vegas, the District of Columbia, Detroit, Manhattan, Chicago, Miami, and most recently “Seattle Noir” which will be feted May 28 at Eagle Harbor Books on Bainbridge.

Akashic’s noir anthologies join other catchy titles from their line like Rick Reid’s “To Be Hung From the Ceiling by Strings of Varying Length,” “The Sacrificial Circumcision of the Bronx,” by Arthur Nersesian and “Of Grunge and Government” by Krist Novoselic, to name a few.

“I adore Akashic Press because they take chances,” said Bainbridge-based author Kathleen Alcala, one of 14 Seattle area authors included in the “Seattle Noir” anthology.

Though it was something unlike anything she’d ever done, when Alcala got the call from editor Curt Colbert to be a part of Seattle Noir, she decided to take a chance of her own.

Alcala’s an academic, not necessarily the type you’d expect to find hanging out in the city’s mean streets. But her story, “Blue Sunday,” about a young, Hispanic Iraq War veteran who is shot by police during a drunk driving stop, ends up actually quite dark and vengeful, bringing a noir feel to a place where you wouldn’t expect it.

“People behaving badly,” Alcala said, defining the noir genre for the layman. “But also, people caught up in bad circumstances — not always necessarily by any fault of their own.”

Which is where her main character Danny, a young father and soldier, winds up on the streets of Seattle’s Central District.

Alcala’s short story, an amended chapter from one of her upcoming books, is matched with edgy stories of seedy characters, private detectives and the like from all over urban Seattle from the pen of authors like G.M. Ford, Sky Moody and Simon Wood to name a few, edited by the Marysville-based mystery writer, Colbert.

‘SEATTLE NOIR’ AUTHORS Curt Colbert, Kathleen Alcala and Brian Thornton will be reading/signing at 7:30 p.m. May 28 at Eagle Harbor Books, 157 Winslow Way on Bainbridge. Info: www.eagleharborbooks.com, www.akashicbooks.com.

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