Sunday, May 28, 2017

Benjamin Whitmer

Benjamin Whitmer was born and raised on back-to-the-land communes and counterculture enclaves ranging from Southern Ohio to Upstate New York. One of his earliest and happiest memories is of standing by the side of a country road with his mother, hitchhiking to parts unknown. Since then, he’s been a factory grunt, a vacuum salesman, a convalescent, a high-school dropout, a graduate student, a semi-truck loader, an activist, a kitchen-table gunsmith, a squatter, a college professor, a dishwasher, a technical writer and a petty thief.

His first novel, Pike, was published in America in 2010 by PM Press, and in France in 2012 by Éditions Gallmeister. Satan is Real: The Ballad of the Louvin Brothers, a memoir co-written with Charlie Louvin, was released by Igniter Books in 2012.

Whitmer's second novel is Cry Father.

From the author's Q&A with Danyelle C. Overbo at Fiction Unbound:

DCO: Your books are considered neo noir or "hard-boiled" fiction. How does this genre encourage the sort of "anti-hero" characters that are sometimes considered unlikeable?

BW: My first two novels get called noir and I agree with that, for the most part. The definition of noir is pretty simple to my mind. It’s Dennis Lehane’s definition: Noir is “working class tragedy.” And in tragedy, the characters have to be tremendously flawed. That’s built into what tragedy is. You can’t find me the blandly likable protagonist in Macbeth or Oedipus Rex. They’re not there because that’s not what the genre does, and those aren’t the questions it addresses. It’s a genre that does a different kind of work.

I’m not sure there’s really any place for it in the American crime fiction genre. Most of what’s sold in the US as crime fiction is really superhero fiction. It’s just these superheroes are detectives or cops and get the occasional bourbon hangover or whatever. And that’s nothing I have any interest in doing. I like reading some of it, and think there’s some great writing in the genre, but it’s not my bag.

DCO: What do you like about writing characters who are flawed in this way?

BW: It’s not really something I like or dislike. I mean, I’m...[read on]
The Page 69 Test: Cry Father.

--Marshal Zeringue