Monday, March 25, 2013

Were the 1950s the era of gimmicks in American crime writing?

don't mean that in a bad way. Fredric Brown had to have had considerable chops to keep the protagonist of Night of the Jabberwock (1951) drunk for the whole book. Same with Fletcher Flora, who has all the characters in The Brass Bed (1956) speaking in a kind of comically boozy cross-talk, though they are usually not drunk.

What other crime novel can you name in which the words goliard or goliards turns up more than forty times? (Detectives Beyond Borders readers are, of course, familiar with goliards.) And how many offer dialogue like this:
“`Will you come and sit beside me?' she said.

“`I don’t think I’d better.'

”`Are you afraid of what might happen?'

“`No. I’m afraid of what would almost certainly happen.'”
or this:
“`That this business of principles is merely a kind of rationalization or something?'

”`Yes.'

“`Well, it’s possible that you may be right. I’m actually quite a greedy person, and you are almost terrifyingly poor. You’ll have to admit that.'

“`I will indeed. I admit it.'

“`Do you think there is the remotest chance that you might come into quite a lot of money pretty soon?'

“`I can’t see any.'

”`How about the goliard? Do you think he might earn you a lot?'”
I don't know that I'd ever read such screwball weirdness before.
*
(Click here for another Detectives Beyond Borders post about crime fiction from the 1950s that also invokes Fletcher Flora's name. Quite a name it is, too. We shall not see its like again in crime writing, I think.)

© Peter Rozovsky 2013

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