Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Hard-boiled at the beach

I'm bursting with enthusiasm for my adopted country, for its misfits, its losers, its hard cases, and its beaches.

I've continued my project, announced here, of reading classic American hard-boiled and noir, and I'll likely continue to do so over the next few days at an undisclosed location on the Atlantic coast. And that means blogging may be light here at Detectives Beyond Borders until next week, lest I get sun screen and beach sand all over my keyboard. In the meantime, a few notes:

1) I like Jim Thompson's The Getaway better than Edward Anderson's Thieves Like Us. Each is saturated with sympathy for its characters, each occasionally lapses into speechifying, but Thompson, perhaps more in this novel than in his others, has considerable fun on the way to his hellish destination.

2) Why isn't Dan J. Marlowe better known? He did his best writing in the know-it-all, smirk-at-everything, over-the-top 1960s, yet his heist novels avoid both nostalgia and jokiness. And The Vengeance Man combines Ross Thomas' eye for political shenanigans with Jim Thompson's fatalism.

Happily, readers will soon be able to learn more about Marlowe and his interesting life (He was a professional gambler, a Rotarian, a Republican city councilman, and a friend of a notorious bank robber.) Gunshots in Another Room: The Forgotten Life of Dan J. Marlowe is scheduled for publication this fall. In the meantime, here's an appreciation of Marlowe from the biography's author, Charles Kelly.

3) Why is Paul Cain's Fast One not included in the Library of America's American Noir of the 1930s and 40s collection? It's the best, toughest, hardest-hitting American crime novel whose author is not named Chandler or Hammett. I'll be sure to ask the LofA volume's editor, Robert Polito, the reason for the omission when we meet in good fellowship at Noircon 2012 in November.

© Peter Rozovsky 2012

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