Man, I am just whupping heck outa them 20's and 30's books!
Of course, it helps that most of them are less than 200 pages
I've come to the conclusion that there just aren't a lot of
pre-1930's hardboiled/noir novels. Hardboiled got its
beginning as short stories in pulp maganzines, didn't it?
According to George Upper, Daly had out a hardboiled short
story in 1922, and near as I can tell, the first hardboiled
novel, SNARL OF THE BEAST, didn't come out til 1927. Well,
I've read Daly's SNARL and Burnett's LITTLE CAESAR, and I can
add that to the 20's stuff I read a while ago, like Hammett's
RED HARVEST and
(if we are being liberal with the hardboiled definition) Hemingway's THE SUN ALSO RISES and A FAREWELL TO ARMS. I think I might just break down and read Hammett's DAIN CURSE. About the only novel that leaves for the 20's is Daly's HIDDEN HAND, which I'll probably pass on for now.
For the 30's I finished Faulkner's SANCTUARY about a week
ago. Faulkner's style of avoiding writing a lot of the key
scenes of violence and slowly feeding the reader clues
throughout the rest of the book to find out what happened
doesn't really appeal to me. Even the scenes he writes are
sometimes hard to figure out. But the book is still kickass.
The sick sexual abuse in there is really shocking. I have no
idea how he ever got away with that. Well, yes I do. He gets
away with it by not explicitly describing what happens, but
instead just slowly passing clues so that the reader
eventually figures it out. Nevertheless, in the end it is
obvious what happened. I've never read anything that nasty
from that early, and this is three years before Cora and
Frank's violent sexual encounters in Cain's POSTMAN. I wonder
if Faulkner cleared the path for Cain?
And of course I just finished a fun Perry Mason book. I've
just started Whitfield's GREEN ICE at home. And I've got
O'Hara's APPOINTMENT TO SAMARRA waiting on me. I'll probably
read some Nathanael West and Erskine Caldwell too. I've
ordered Paul Cain's FAST ONE twice now from Abebooks, and
both times the order has been cancelled. Same thing happened
with the GALLOWS title that Al recommended.
And just to get this straight, we did agree that there were
absolutely no women writing hardboiled/noir pre- 1940, right?
Part of my plan for this time-wise examination of
hardboiled/noir is to read the early female authors. I
haven't read any women authors for so long I'm feeling
guilty. Through all your great advice, I've got Craig Rice's
TRIAL BY FURY, Vin Packer's DAMNATION OF ADAM BLESSING, and
Vera Caspary's LAURA waiting for the right decade to pop up.
Dorothy Hughes's IN A LONELY PLACE and RIDE A PINK HORSE is
on the way.
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