Reverse-Gentrification of the Literary World

Akashic Books

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Portland Noir

Edited by:

Explore the dark, rainy underbelly of one of America’s most beautiful but enigmatic cities.

$15.95 $11.96

Available as an e-book for:


Akashic Books continues its groundbreaking series of original noir anthologies, launched in 2004 with Brooklyn Noir. Each story is set in a distinct neighborhood or location within the city of the book.

Brand-new stories by: Gigi Little, Justin Hocking, Christopher Bolton, Jess Walter, Monica Drake, Jamie S. Rich (illustrated by Joëlle Jones), Dan DeWeese, Zoe Trope, Luciana Lopez, Karen Karbo, Bill Cameron, Ariel Gore, Floyd Skloot, Megan Kruse, Kimberly Warner-Cohen, and Jonathan Selwood.

From the introduction by Kevin Sampsell:

Settled in 1843 and named by a coin flip (we were almost named Boston), Portland had troubles from the start. The first sheriff, William Johnson, was busted for selling ‘ardent spirits.’ He had been ‘reduced by an evil heart,’ said the indictment. The first couple of decades were probably pretty rough, what with the constant flooding and muddy streets making all the citizens cranky . . . Later, in the 1940s and ’50s, the city practically thrived on criminal activity. Speakeasies, brothels, and gambling dens popped up across the downtown area . . . Portland became known as quite the decadent town, even prompting Bobby Kennedy to wrangle up its main bad guys for a televised Racketeering Committee meeting in 1957. One senator said at the hearings, ‘If I lived there, I would suggest they pull the flags down to half-mast in public shame.’

A lot of these places of ‘shame’ remain standing, and while many are occupied now by salons and offices, some of them are probably still home to gambling and stripping. (Portland does, after all, have more strip clubs per capita than any other city in America—and yep, they take it all off here.) . . . Portland continues to update its own version of a contemporary utopian society as more and more people flock here. But even in utopia, crime and unrest are always bubbling right under the surface.

Table of Contents


Part I: Bloodlines
“The Clown and Bard” by Karen Karbo (S.E. Twenty-Eighth Avenue)
“Julia Now” by Luciana Lopez (St. Johns)
“Water under the Bridge” by Ariel Gore (Clinton)
“Alzheimer’s Noir” by Floyd Skloot (Oaks Bottom)
“The Sleeper” by Dan DeWeese (Highway 30)

Part II: Crooks & Cops
“The Wrong House” by Jonathan Selwood (Mount Tabor)
“Baby, I’m Here” by Monica Drake (Legacy Good Samaritan Hospital)
“Coffee, Black” by Bill Cameron (Seven Corners)
“Gone Doggy Gone” by Jamie S. Rich & Joëlle Jones (Montgomery Park)
“Virgo” by Jess Walter (Pearl District)
“The Red Room” by Chris A. Bolton (Powell’s City of Books)

Part III: Desolation City
“Burnside Forever” by Justin Hocking (Burnside Skatepark)
“Hummingbird” by Zoe Trope (S.E. Eighty-Second Avenue)
“Shanghaied” by Gigi Little (Old Town)
“Lila” by Megan Kruse (Powell Boulevard)
“People Are Strange” by Kimberly Warner-Cohen (Sandy Boulevard)

Book Details

  • Paperback: 300 pages
  • Published: 6/1/09
  • IBSN: 9781933354798
  • e-IBSN: 9781936070435


KEVIN SAMPSELL is a bookstore employee and writer. He is the author of a short story collection, Creamy Bullets (Chiasmus Press), and the upcoming memoir, A Common Pornography (HarperPerennial, January 2010). He is also the editor of The Insomniac Reader (Manic D Press), Portland Noir, and the publisher of the micropress, Future Tense Books.

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