Home > 2010, 21st Century, American Literature, Bassoff Jon, Noir, Polar, TBR20 > Corrosion by Jon Bassoff – Neo noir fiction

Corrosion by Jon Bassoff – Neo noir fiction

Corrosion by Jon Bassoff (2013) French title: Corrosion. Translated by Anatole Pons

I bought Corrosion at Quais du Polar in 2016. Jon Bassoff was signing his book, I chatted a bit with him and I took a chance on it. As most writers, he was happy to be in Lyon among other crime fiction writers and to be in contact with enthusiastic crime fiction lovers.

Corrosion is published in the NeoNoir collection by Gallmeister. Frequent readers of this blog know it by now: if a book is published by Gallmeister, it’s good. It might not suit you but not for lacking in the literature department. Corrosion is not an exception.

It starts like classic noir. We’re in 2010, an Irak war veteran with a scarred face has a breakdown on a country road. He walks to the closest bar where a woman gets beaten up by her husband in front of him. He interferes and they leave together. The man, Joseph Downs, stays in this little town, Stratton. The woman, Lilith, convinces him that they should kill her husband to pocket his life insurance money. She just made a colossal mistake.

Who is really Joseph Dowes and what’s his story? Bassoff takes the reader on a very dark and abrasive road. I can’t tell much about Corrosion without spoiling the plot but Ken Bruen gives an accurate description of it:

Imagine Chuck Palahniuk filtered through Tarantino speak, blended with an acidic Jim Thompson and a book that cries out to be filmed by David Lynch, then you have a flavor of Corrosion. The debut novel from the unique Jon Bassoff begins a whole new genre: Corrosive Noir.

I checked out other covers for this disturbing crime fiction novel. The French one is Gallmeister’s signature for their NeoNoir collection. This very sober cover is typical from French publishers. The American one reflects the darkness of the story and projects its horror.

Corrosion is dark, violent and uncomfortable. I found it too violent for me and it’s definitely a book I’d never want to see on screen. I couldn’t bear it but I’m a bit too sensitive about violence in films. It’s horrific at times and yet extremely well written. I have Corrosion in French, so I can’t really share quotes but trust me, the writing is good. There are allusions to Jim Thompson and the style betrays a skilled and literate writer. He knows his classics, he has internalized them, made them his and used them to our benefit in a well-constructed and terribly efficient book. Bassoff created a deeply disturbed character and the plot leads the reader towards an implacable ending.

Masterfully done. An excellent novel but for the strong hearted.

  1. June 26, 2017 at 9:50 pm

    That sounds very disturbing but rather enticing – you know me and my dark predilections (in literature at least). No, I don’t like it in film either, but I can handle it in books.


    • June 26, 2017 at 9:52 pm

      Same here : I can handle a lot more in books than in films.
      It’s disturbing but good.


  2. June 27, 2017 at 2:01 am

    Not for me either by the sounds of it. I usually turn away from a book w. an Iraq war vet it anyway. It’s the stereotype that puts me off.


    • June 27, 2017 at 9:57 pm

      I’m good for your TBR these days!
      This one is very good but not for everyone. I found it hard to stomach even if I can tell it’s well-done.


  3. June 29, 2017 at 5:59 pm

    It does sound fairly brutal. It also sounds potentially darker than Thompson, an idea that rather terrifies me…

    Good writing can be a double edged sword. A book like this if written in a pulpy style can be quite fun. If written well however, that makes it a much more sobering beast.


    • June 30, 2017 at 12:45 pm

      It’s more graphic than Jim Thompson but the character is as deranged as the one in The Killer Inside Me.
      It’s a bit like Jake Hinkson.
      It’s good, really, but you need to be in the right mood. He’s a writer to follow.


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