RARA-AVIS: Recent Purchases

From: George Pelecanos ( shoedog1@erols.com)
Date: 02 Feb 2001

Doug Bassett talks about VIOLENT SATURDAY, one of my favorites. There's a scene near the end of the book where a distraught man, Boyd, describes his murdered wife to a couple of his friends, that to my mind captures the essence of hardboiled/noir in a few short paragraphs. Here's a sample:

"I was holding her hand when she died," said Boyd. "Did I tell you that? About holding her hand? She wasn't able to talk, but I could tell she wanted me to hold her hand. She must have known she was going." He leaned forward and laced his fingers together. "Like this," he said, "with our fingers interlocked, the way you'd hold a girls hand at the movies. She died alone, though. That's one thing you do all alone, even in a roomful of people. It's too bad, too, to have to die in front of a lot of people. Emily was scared. She was scared to death, and I'm afraid it didn't help much for me to hold her hand. You can't help anybody die."


"She didn't look like she'd ever been alive," Boyd said. "She didn't look like she'd ever spoken a word or moved or ever heard a sound. She was like something--I swear I can't describe it. Even her hair looked dead where it was parted. Nothing could ever lie as still as she was lying. I could have screamed at her or shot off a stick a dynamite in that room and she'd never have known it, you know that? When a person's dead, they're really dead, I can tell you. I never dreamed how still and how much like wax. I've often heard that word used about dead people, that they looked like wax, and they do. They look exactly like wax."

W.L. Heath bought a little piece of immortality with this one.


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