‘Dallas Noir’ Explores the City’s Alluring Shimmer and Seedy Underbelly

By David BrownNovember 29, 2013 2:39 pm

While Pulitzer Prize winner Larry McMurty described Dallas in Texas Monthly as “a second-rate city that wishes it were first-rate,” literary agent and editor David Hale Smith prefers a different description. This one’s found in the lines of Jimmie Dale Gilmore’s song “Dallas:”

Dallas is a rich man with a death wish in his eyes

A steel and concrete soul in a warm-hearted love disguise.

“It’s one of the great lyrics of all time. The song is a poem, but it really nails Dallas, and of course nails the essence of this book we put together,” Smith says. He sat down with KUT’s David Brown to discuss that new book, “Dallas Noir.”

Smith is the editor of “Dallas Noir,” a new collection of fiction stories set in distinct neighborhoods and locations within Dallas, each showing a drastically different side to the city. “Like a beautiful woman with poison under her fingernails, this is a town of dangerous paradoxes,” Smith writes in the book’s introduction.

“Dallas is so sparkly and new, but you can get to the dirty and nasty part quickly,” he sayas. “There’s white collar crime and ‘crime’ crime, and it’s all mixed up together.”

When many people think of Dallas, they think of President John F. Kennedy’s assassination in 1963. It’s “the permanent black scar that’s never going to be erased,” Smith says. “It’s synonymous with the name of Dallas. Dallas has tried to run from that, to do its best to forget about that, but it’s never going to go away.”

While compiling stories for the book, Smith was surprised not to find any mention of the dark anniversary.

“What’s interesting in collecting these stories, I thought I’d get some story that made reference to it, but no one really went there. That made me happy.”