RARA-AVIS: Re Don Tracy

From: WoodyHaut@aol.com
Date: 04 Mar 2002

For me, the best Tracy novel is, in fact, Criss Cross, which was adapted for the screen by R. Siodmak, starring Lancaster and Yevonne DeCarlo, with a tremendous script by the underrated Daniel Fuchs (the Jerome Charyn of the 1940s). Criss Cross was remade by Steven Sondberg in 1995, entitled Underneath, based pretty much on Fuch's original screenplay. The novel- Tracy's first- was published in 1934, and is reminescent of Goodis- though the latter's first novel would not be published for another four years. Narrated in the first person, Criss Cross grapples with themes that Tracy would recycle in his later fiction- obtaining a foothold on the economic ladder, racism, the pain of relationships, identity, and alcoholism, a condition which Tracy would fight against for a good part of his life. Tracy went on to write such crime novels as Round Trip (1934), the aforementioned How Sleeps the Beast (1937), whose cover blurb states: "The man- NEGRO, The Girl- WHITE, The Payoff- LYNCH!), The Big Blackout (1959), The Hated One
(1963), and Look Down on Her Dying (1968). He won an Edgar Award in 1974 for Flats Fixed, Among Other Things. Tracy also wrote historical novels, as well as sports stories for adolescents, and contributed stories to the Saturday Evening Post with titles like "The Duck That Flew Backwards" and "The Alligator That Hated the Swamp." Under the name Roger Fuller, he wrote novelisations based on such television series as Peyton Place, The Defenders
, The Fugitive and Burke's Law. Towards the end of his life- he died in 1976- he became President of the anti-alcohol New Life Foundation. Accordingly, Tracy's final book was non-fiction: What You Should Know About Alcoholism. Hope this helps, Woody Haut

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