RARA-AVIS: Re: Don Carpenter's Hard Rain Falling (Harcourt, Brace & World, 1966)

From: Sarah ( sarah.weinman@gmail.com)
Date: 19 Feb 2008

Gary - ah, another Don Carpenter convert! I spent much of last summer reading his entire backlist and agree that HARD RAIN FALLING (which was excerpted in issue #2 of Murdaland) is something special. The prose, the pain, the depiction of the inner workings of men and their hidden longings and primal instincts still sears my brain after all these months. I, too, wish his work would be brought back into print, though I'm not sure what the chances are at this point.


--- In rara-avis-l@yahoogroups.com, "Gary" <piesbook@...> wrote:
> The serendipity of discovering a book never ceases to amaze me. All my
> adult life I have been networked to fans of crime fiction, but
recently a
> man walked into my library who knew I had written Read 'Em Their
Writes. He
> handed me this title and told me he thought it was one of the best crime
> novels he had ever read.
> I have to agree. Even more remarkable, it is Don Carpenter's first
> Hard Rain Falling is told in five parts. The first exposition, a
very short
> prologue, details the birth of Jack Levitt in Eastern Oregon. Jack
is born
> to people with limited parenting skills, ending up an orphan. In
the second
> part, Jack has moved to Portland and it is 1949. He is struggling
to exist,
> spending time with small hustles and living out of a pool hall. When an
> African-American pool hustler named Billy Lancing comes to Portland,
> story takes over the narrative. By part three, Jack is in San
> where through a series of unfortunate incidents, he ends up in San
> only to find Billy as his cellmate. While the two develop their
> relationship in prison, the novel takes time to show Billy's path to his
> incarceration. Part four is devoted to Jack's life outside of San
> when he decides to raise a family. Part five is the coda on the
> To say more about the plot is pointless as what carries this book is a
> relentless debate on the merits of an unimaginable number of human
> scenarios. Mostly told through reminiscences, the book allows
characters to
> tell their stories while revealing the conditions that created the
> that plague them and the belief systems that led the character to
make the
> choices that they made. These remarkable revelations reveal the
true nature
> of love, the relationship between men and women, the need for
> the purpose of incarceration, the yearning for parents and the
desire to be
> one, the causes behind crime and the hopelessness of growing up
> disenfranchised in America.
> Don Carpenter was born in 1931 in Berkeley, California. His family
moved to
> Portland where he graduated from high school. After service in the Air
> Force during the Korean War, he earned a B.S. from Portland State
> After earning a M.A. from San Francisco State College, he taught
> For awhile, he was happily married and raised two daughters. After the
> publication of his first novel, he moved to Mill Valley, California, and
> became a full time writer. But divorce separated him from his
family. He
> also spent years contributing to various projects in Hollywood with his
> greatest success being the cult film Payday (1973) starring Rip
Torn. In
> addition to Hard Rain Falling, he wrote, Blade of Light (1967), The
> of the Frogs and Other Stories (1969), Getting Off (1971), The True Life
> Story of Jody McKeegan (1975), A Couple of Comedians (1979), Turnaround
> (1981), The Class of '49 (1985), The Dispossessed (1986), and From A
> Place (1988). Ill, but still writing, he committed suicide by
gunshot in
> 1995. More can be learned about this remarkable writer at
> http://www.doncarpenterpage.com <http://www.doncarpenterpage.com/> .
> The words tour de force comes to mind. It certainly will fit any
> definition of noir.
> Here is The Big Disappointment: Currently, none of Don Carpenter's
> are in print. A search of WorldCat reveals only 231 copies
available and
> the American Book Exchange lists only 28 used copies for sale.
Sadly, just
> like the character of Jack Levitt, this novel has no future, unless
> gets this work back in print.
> Best, Gary Warren Niebuhr
> piesbook@...
> http://my.execpc.com/~piesbook/piescatalog.html
> [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]

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