RARA-AVIS: Fright & Savage Bride

From: Jeff Vorzimmer ( jvorzimmer@austin.rr.com)
Date: 06 Feb 2008

As Richard pointed out, Woolrich's Fright and Savage Bride came out the same year, 1950, and though the stories themselves are very different, they both have the typical Woolrich theme. The Woolrich theme is that of a man, who believes he is in control of his life, but ultimately his fate is the hands of a woman or is determined by a series of events initiated by a woman that ultimately leads to the male protagonist's salvation, redemption, vindication, retribution or destruction. The male characters by contrast seem weak, petulant, obsessive and possessive and the women strong, stoic and reserved in a kind of role reversal. In his novels, especially these two, innocent bystanders get caught in the shrapnel of exploding lives and sometimes pay with there lives. There are also the implausible coincidences and twists of fate typical of Woolich that push the limits of credulity.

I liked Savage Bride. I think once you get past the fact that the story is pulp adventure fiction, but not crime fiction and get into it for what it is rather than what it is not, you can enjoy the story. Just put some Martin Denny or Les Baxter on the stereo, mix yourself an exotic cocktail and enjoy it. That is if you can stand Woolrich's sniveling male characters. I think Savage Bride is the Woolrich theme on steroids, the theme pushed to it's limits. If female characters in his novels seem to be driven by more base instincts than the males, this novel then takes that idea to the ultimate manifestation--woman as savage.


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