L.A. Noire Gets L.A. Literary with Official Crime Anthology

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Joyce Carole Oates, Francine Prose, Megan Abbott–names of note to literary wonks, but in a video game? As scripts go, the best the industry’s mustered to date–BioShock, Red Dead Redemption, possibly Grim Fandango and the original Gabriel Knight–pale in comparison to books like Black Water, Blue Angel, and Bury Me Deep. You’d never see their authors rub elbows with the likes of an unwashed video game, would you?

Think again. The verdict’s still out on Rockstar’s upcoming sandbox-sleuther L.A. Noire, but the New York-based game publisher partnered with Mulholland Books to bring all-new stories set in the game’s hardboiled fictive universe. And if the following author list doesn’t impress, you’re either a literary snob, or out of your depth.

I’m talking about–in addition to the three above–Lawrence Block (A Dance at the Slaughterhouse), Joe Lansdale (The Bottoms), Jonathan Santlofer (Anatomy of Fear), Duane Swierczynski (Expiration Date) and Andrew Vachss (Strega). If those names mean nothing to you, you’re probably not reading enough.

What sort of story grist we talking? Hard-bitten, of course. From the press release:

1940s Hollywood, murder, deception and mystery take center stage as readers reintroduce themselves to characters seen in L.A. Noire. Explore the lives of actresses desperate for the Hollywood spotlight; heroes turned defeated men; and classic Noir villains. Readers will come across not only familiar faces, but familiar cases from the game that take on a new spin to tell the tales of emotionally torn protagonists, depraved schemers and their ill-fated victims.

If you’d care for an excerpt, Rockstar’s made a portion of Abbot’s story “The Girl” available on its website already (full story to follow “soon”). Here’s an excerpt from, well, the excerpt:

Through the half-open doors, June could see women with severe hair and pendulous earrings, their arms laced high with Mexican bracelets. Men with pencil moustaches and the slick look of morphine and Chinatown yenshee, their cuff links dropping to the floor, their heads loose on their necks. Some were dancing, hips pressed close, and others were doing other things, straps slipping from shoulders, bracelets clacking to the tiled floor.

Not bad at all. Rockstar’s calling the whole thing L.A. Noire: The Collected Stories, and the only trouble I see is that it’ll only be available as an eBook when it launches June 6, 2011. Why not offer a paperback version? The author list is certainly “winning” enough.

Come on Rockstar, give your bit of inspired thinking a proper tree-ware version, too.