Re: RARA-AVIS: Best works of criticism and background?

From: Michael Robison (
Date: 28 Sep 2006

William Denton wrote:

If someone wanted to buy one (or two) books about hardboiled and noir, and was looking for background, criticism, history, interpretation, opinion, etc., what would you recommend?

************* As far as an actual literary discussion, I think that O'Brien's Hardboiled America is wonderful. He follows the genre where it leads rather than twisting it to satisfy some personal agenda. Two others I recommend are Duncan's Noir Fiction and Madden's Tough Guy Writers of the Thirties.

As far as a description of the pulp period, Goulart's Dime Detectives shows a lot of knowledgeable detail. His love for the pulps is catching. But Gruber's Pulp Jungle is right in the middle of it. It is a real and bona fide memoir of the pulp age. He personally knew Cap Shaw, Cornell Woolrich, Max Brand, and a bunch others. He was right in the middle of it.

As far as the early paperback period, I'd do a repeat on O'Brien's Hardboiled America and add Server's Over My Dead Body.


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