The Talented Ms. Bravura
Hot off the presses — I’m delighted to share this conversation with author Robert Polito, published in The Brooklyn Rail:
Robert Polito (Rail):Congratulations on your terrific new novel, The Great Bravura. Each of your chapters is titled after a classic noir (or noirish) film—Leave Her to Heaven, Detour, Dark Passage, among many others—is this ambience, atmosphere? Or do you want us to reflect on the specific films as we read the chapters?
Jill Dearman: I thought about the words in the film titles as pieces of a poetic puzzle, not direct references to the film plots. But I do like the thought that readers might be curious enough to seek out these particular movies. I wanted each chapter in the book to contain that feeling of brutal inevitability, which for me is a lot of the pull of the noir sensibility. There’s a feeling that runs through almost all noir stories that strongly suggests a character struggling hopelessly against the forces of fate.
Rail: What drew you to your late-1940s setting?
Dearman: My secretary mother loved “women’s pictures;” and my taxi-driver father was a fan of men’s pictures—gritty, violent tales of regular guys who were caught in the wrong place at the wrong time doing the wrong thing, and often not knowing why …