Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Black Wings Has My Angel

Barry Gifford is right so far about Black Wings Has My Angel. The author of Wild at Heart called Elliott Chaze's 1953 lovers-on-the-run story "An astonishingly well-written literary novel that just happened to be about (or roundabout) a crime."

The novel is so well-written, and so diverting in its incident, that when Chaze injects not just a noir touch a few chapters in, but one of the must typical mid-twentieth-century noir touches, it seems entirely new and entirely right.  This is not what I think of when I think of Gold Medal Books, but that is precisely who first published the book.

Two more observations:  One is unlikely to read description much better than Chaze's of the waitress "who was hanging over the table like a fat starched cloud," and I'm hardly surprised Gifford loved this book, because in its story and in the relaxed, off-hand, humorous way of telling it, even at its grimmest, it seems a virtual blueprint for Wild at Heart and the rest of Gifford's Sailor and Lula novels.
Gifford is not just an author and screenwriter.. His Black Lizard Press launched the revival of interest in paperback-original writers from the 1940s, '50s, and '60s, including Elliott Chaze.

© Peter Rozovsky 2015 

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Blogger Unknown said...

It's odd how the Gifford quote is (in the Amazon book site) attributable to someone else; check it out at Amazon.

I will be downloading the expensive (99 cents) copy -- it's a steal -- for my Kindle. You are an accessory to the crime.

Your high praise sets the bar pretty high. So I am expecting great things.

March 11, 2015  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

RTD, I took the Gifford blurb from the back cover of the edition pictured with my post, which also gives a source for the quotation: Oxford American. If you are able to verify an incorrect attribution, please let me know.

In any case, though, my observation about Chaze's novel and its apparent influence on Gifford's writing would still stand.

March 11, 2015  

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