Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Before 'True Detective'

In honor of all of the breathless praise accompanying the release of HBO’s new crime noir series True Detective, The Atlantic is urging readers to revisit two short stories by Nicolas Pizzolatto, the show’s creator. The stories appeared in the magazine ten years ago, when Pizzolatto was an MFA student at the University of Arkansas, and they explore themes that would later mark the HBO series. 

Chief among those is gender and the relationship between men and women. Pizzolatto is a radically masculine writer. The female characters of True Detective serve primarily as foils for the rich inner life of his two lead men: a haunted, philosophically-tinged caricature of the old west lawman played by a sinewy Mathew McConaughey and a thick-ribbed Woody Harrelson, whose character projects stolid family conservatism while he cheats on his wife.

Pizzolatto’s story “Between Here and the Yellow Sea,” published in the November 2004 issue of the The Atlantic, also centers around two men. One is an aging Texas high school football coach (a tragic inversion of Friday Night Lights Coach Taylor) whose daughter has run off to California and stars in porn films. The other is the narrator, Bobby Corresi, a few years out of high school, going by Robert now but in no other way older or wiser. He once longingly hoped for romance with the daughter and agrees to help the coach bring her home.

Read the rest at American Short Fiction

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