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Crime Novels: American Noir of the 1930s and 40s

von Robert Polito (Herausgeber)

Weitere Autoren: Edward Anderson (Mitwirkender), James M. Cain (Mitwirkender), Kenneth Fearing (Mitwirkender), William Lindsay Gresham (Mitwirkender), Horace McCoy (Mitwirkender)1 mehr, Cornell Woolrich (Mitwirkender)

MitgliederRezensionenBeliebtheitDurchschnittliche BewertungDiskussionen
5711032,278 (4.42)30
"This adventurous volume, with its companion devoted to the 1950s, presents a rich vein of modern American writing too often neglected in mainstream literary histories. Evolving out of the terse and violent hardboiled style of the pulp magazines, noir fiction expanded over the decades into a varied and innovative body of writing. Tapping deep roots in the American literary imagination, the novels in this volume explore themes of crime, guilt, deception, obsessive passion, murder, and the disintegrating psyche. With visionary and often subversive force they create a dark and violent mythology out of the most commonplace elements of modern life. The raw power of their vernacular style has profoundly influenced contemporary American culture and writing. Far from formulaic, they are ambitious works which bend the rules of genre fiction to their often experimental purposes"--Jacket.… (mehr)
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Including Nightmare Alley makes this a classic collection of American noir. ( )
  petescisco | Mar 29, 2021 |
NA
  pszolovits | Feb 3, 2021 |
Here is the first sentence: "“They threw me off the hay truck about noon” — James M. Cain’s The Postman Always Rings Twice. A fine beginning. But afterwards, perhaps fifty pages in, I was ready for a shower. This is one depraved story about two sociopathic misfits who are made for each other, Frank and Cora. Maybe the two of them do not exactly feel 'love at first sight,' but 'lust' could replace 'love' and the tortured reader, not to mention everyone who comes across this star-crossed couple, gets pulled into a vortex of depravity. The story takes place, say, in 1934, the Great Depression, and is located mostly in a greasy-spoon diner on a traveled highway about twenty miles above LA, maybe the Montrose area going into the mountains or the old 101 between Sherman Oaks and Thousand Oaks. And the miscreants and reprobates and grifters who populate its pages, as they lord it over the 'Mexs,' and the 'Wops' and the 'dirty' Greeks, make today's reader realize where our compatriots who wish "to make America great again" want us to return to: a world where brute force and misogyny bully and beat the rest of the populace into its place. There can be no denial, however, that Cain's compelling and terse narrative, without one single wasted word, is masterful. Were the book longer, a back story as to how these two grifters morphed into who they were, would be as gripping as a Dreiser novel; Dreiser would leave no anecdote behind if given the chance to demonstrate why his people would behave as they did. For the rest of us, Thoreau's remark, that "the mass of men live lives of quiet desperation" will have to suffice. Now for a shower! ( )
  larryking1 | Jul 7, 2020 |
"The postman always rings twice" by James M. Cain
"They shoot horses, don't they?" by Horace McCoy
"Thieves like Us" by Edward Andersen
"The big clock" by Kenneth Fearing
"Nightmare alley" by William Lindsay Gresham
"I married a dead man" by Cornell Woolrich
  IICANA | Apr 18, 2016 |
A review of some of the short stories:

  • The Postman Always Rings Twice by James M. Cain

  • They Shoot Horses Don't They? by Horace McCoy

  • The Big Clock by Kenneth Fearing


  • and three others:

    • Thieves Like Us by Edward Anderson

    • Nightmare Alley by William Lindsay Gresham

    • I Married a Dead Man by Cornell Woolrich


    From The Postman Always Rings Twice~ I have always wanted to know what this story was all about. Written in 1934 it tells the sexy, gritty tale of Frank Chambers, a drifter who finds himself grounded by Cora Papadakis, a married woman. Cora's beauty and instant mutual attraction leads to Frank's uncharacteristic staying put. Soon the adulterous couple is contemplating murder. The plot is timeless. Desire has led them to the devil's doorstep.
    Favorite lines: "I kissed her. Her eyes were shining up at me like two blue stars. It was like being in church" (p13).
    "Then the devil went to bed with us, and believe you me, kid, he sleeps pretty good" (p 70).
    What Nancy had to say about : "...filled with desperate, scheming men and women..." (Pearl, Nancy. Book Lust, p66).

    From They Shoot Horses Don't They?: This was a bizarre, psychological tale about two kids with very different dreams. Robert is looking to be a film producer and Gloria wants to be an actress. They pair up and enter a Hollywood dance contest knowing Hollywood bigwigs would be in attendance. The contest is all about making money, working the contestants like racehorses, making bigger and better stunts to attract sponsors and a bigger audience. Analogies to horse racing are abundant. From the title of the book it is obvious what happens in the end, but it's a fascinating read just the same.
    What Nancy had to say, "...wonderfully grungy dance-marathon nightmare novel" (Book Lust p 67).

    From Thieves Like Us ~ : I found this to be a very slow moving, almost methodical story. Written in 1937 it tells the tale of three bank robbers: Elmo Mobley, T.W. Masefeld and Bowie A. Bowers. While the story of these thieves as fugitives on the run is interesting, what makes the entire piece come alive is the vivid imagery used to describe the landscape these men hide in. Across Texas and Oklahoma's back country there are many farmhouses and hideaways to keep the story moving. Favorite lines: Oddly enough, the dedication caught my eye: "To my cousin and my wife, because there I was with an empty gun and you, Roy, supplied the ammunition and you, Anne, directed my aim" (p 216). Here's where my sick mind went with this: Roy (the cousin) had an affair with Anne (the wife). Don't mind me.
    Second favorite line: "The moon hung in the heavens like a shred of fingernail" (p 224). There have been a lot of interesting moon descriptions, but I liked this one a lot.

    The Big Clock by Kenneth Fearing started out slow. George Stroud works for a conglomerate of magazines in their Crimeways department. He is a simple family man with a wife and daughter, but his dreams and ambitious are big. When he has an affair with his boss's girlfriend and she winds up bludgeoned to death things get a little tricky. It's a story of conspiracy and cat and mouse. George must prove his innocence when everything points to the contrary. Once it gets going it's fascinating!
    From The Big Clock: "The eye saw nothing but innocence, to the instincts she was undiluted sex, the brain said here was a perfect hell" (p 383), "He said how nice Georgette was looking which was true, how she always reminded him of carnivals and Hallowe'en" (p 385) and "I could feel the laborious steps her reasoning took before she reached a tentative, spoken conclusion" (p 393).
    What Nancy Pearl had to say, "...edgy corporate-as-hell thriller" (Book Lust p 66).

    Nightmare Alley was intriguing on many different levels. It was the ultimate "what goes around comes around" story. The lives of carnival entertainers serves as the backdrop for Stanton Carlise's rise and fall. He joins the carnival and soon picks of the tricks of Zeena, the Seer. Once Stan the Great learns the craft (an inadvertently commits murder) he leaves the carny and sets out on his own as a Mentalist, becoming greedier and greedier for taking the sucker's buck. Soon he passes himself off as a priest with the capability of bringing loved ones back from the dead. Constantly running from troubles in his own life Stan gets himself deeper and deeper until no one is trustworthy.

    I Married a Dead Man by Cornell Woolrich was probably my favorite. You don't know much about Helen Georgesson before she assumes the identity of Patrice Hazzard. The facts are Helen is a pregnant girl, riding the rails with 17 cents to her name. A chance encounter and a terrible accident leave Helen with a case of mistaken identity. For the opportunity to start life anew and give her baby a better life Helen accepts Patrice's identity as her own. Living the life of luxury doesn't come easy when Helen's past comes to town and threatens to unveil her true self. ( )
      SeriousGrace | Jan 4, 2012 |
    keine Rezensionen | Rezension hinzufügen

    » Andere Autoren hinzufügen

    AutorennameRolleArt des AutorsWerk?Status
    Polito, RobertHerausgeberHauptautoralle Ausgabenbestätigt
    Anderson, EdwardMitwirkenderCo-Autoralle Ausgabenbestätigt
    Cain, James M.MitwirkenderCo-Autoralle Ausgabenbestätigt
    Fearing, KennethMitwirkenderCo-Autoralle Ausgabenbestätigt
    Gresham, William LindsayMitwirkenderCo-Autoralle Ausgabenbestätigt
    McCoy, HoraceMitwirkenderCo-Autoralle Ausgabenbestätigt
    Woolrich, CornellMitwirkenderCo-Autoralle Ausgabenbestätigt
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    "This adventurous volume, with its companion devoted to the 1950s, presents a rich vein of modern American writing too often neglected in mainstream literary histories. Evolving out of the terse and violent hardboiled style of the pulp magazines, noir fiction expanded over the decades into a varied and innovative body of writing. Tapping deep roots in the American literary imagination, the novels in this volume explore themes of crime, guilt, deception, obsessive passion, murder, and the disintegrating psyche. With visionary and often subversive force they create a dark and violent mythology out of the most commonplace elements of modern life. The raw power of their vernacular style has profoundly influenced contemporary American culture and writing. Far from formulaic, they are ambitious works which bend the rules of genre fiction to their often experimental purposes"--Jacket.

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