Noir at the Bar

Bruce Robert Coffin here, manning the helm of the Maine Crime Writers’ Blog and trying to navigate a course to spring. In the past four days we’ve had two major snow storms and two days of fifty degree temperatures. Perhaps Samuel Langhorne Clemens was right.

This past Sunday I took part in a group reading known as Noir at the Bar. It was the second such reading conducted by a dozen Maine mystery authors at Bull Feeney’s in Portland’s Old Port. Always a lively crowd and the stories flow as freely as the libations. Each author is given an opportunity to set up the scene followed by three minutes of actual reading. The event is a lot of fun, for both the readers and the listeners. Passages are read from our latest books, those on the horizon, and occasionally from some of our older well-loved works.

Various photographs were posted on social media following the event. The pictures that most often draw my attention are those of the listeners. Enthralled by whichever yarn was being spun at the time, their faces are not unlike those of the children in a classroom during afternoon story hour. Eyes wide and mouths agape as adjective laden prose whisks them through the secret worlds of each reader. The visions of the tales spun are limited only by the imagination of the listener. As I look at the photos I can’t help but be transported back in time to third grade when Mrs. Dunham would captivate us with tales of Charlie Bucket and his grand prize tour of Wonka’s secret factory. The vivid descriptions of Dahl’s confectionery creations delighted each of our ravenous young imaginations.

The well-crafted written word is bested only when delivered vocally by the writer with the precision and passion of an orchestra conductor. Storytelling that engrosses the open mind, freeing it to travel in whichever direction the author may lead us. Have you attended an author reading? Join us, won’t you?

About Bruce Robert Coffin

Bruce is a retired detective sergeant with more than twenty-seven years in law enforcement. At the time of his retirement, from the Portland, Maine police department, he supervised all homicide and violent crime investigations for Maine's largest city. Bruce also spent four years working counter-terrorism with the FBI, where he earned the Director's Award, the highest honor a non-agent can receive. He is the bestselling author of the Detective Byron Mystery Series from HarperCollins. His short stories appear in a number of anthologies including The Best American Mystery Stories 2016. Bruce lives and writes in Maine.
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9 Responses to Noir at the Bar

  1. Bruce – “Noir at the Bar” looks terrific. Is it every month on a specific Sunday? I talked to you last summer at Books at Boothbay before “Among the Shadows” came out (I was the one with the sea kayak paddle). You wondered whether … you know. But it’s clearly a winner – kudos to you!

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  2. Totally agree Bruce!
    Nice to see my mom and dad in the listener photo, along with Brenda Buchanan, who does such a great job putting these together, and her wife,Diane Kenny, who always takes some great photos herself.

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  3. Sandy Rowland says:

    I love this idea of a nouir public reading. You’ve inspired me to try this in Utah . Thanks for the fun and inspiration.

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  4. Brenda Buchanan says:

    Thanks for posting about Noir @ The Bar, Bruce! It really was a lot of fun to hear everyone read their best three minutes. Thanks to Maureen Milliken for putting together the wonderful flyer we use to promote these. If all goes well, this last one will be featured on her podcast. Stay tuned for details, MCW readers!

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  5. Sandra Neily says:

    Thank you Maureen and Brenda!
    So pleased that the first sign-up slot to read was seriously left empty by a talented group who’s probably not shy (just busy ordering the first round) and that you, Brenda, handed me a pen and signed me up. What a great range of stories, characters…and just general noir. Much fun. Thanks.

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