RARA-AVIS: Favorite Woolrich novel and collections

From: Richard Moore ( moorich@aol.com)
Date: 21 Feb 2008

RENDEZVOUS IN BLACK is my favorite Woolrich novel and I am about halfway through writing a long post on that novel. If only every day life would slow up a little so I can finish it!

NIGHTWEBS is not a bad introduction to Woolrich's shorter work, especially given the lengthy material by Mike Nevins on his career.

There is a bewildering number of Woolrich/Irish short story collections with overlaping contents. The Woolrich collection NIGHTMARE had a fairly recent Dell paperback and should be fairly easy to find. It has the classic "Three O'Clock" which Hitchcock directed a television adaptation (called "One Hour") which starred E.G. Marshall and I remember it vividly despite the five plus decades since viewing it.

SOMEBODY ON THE PHONE (aka DEADLY NIGHT CALL) by William Irish includes several notable stories including "Momentum" (aka "Murder Always Gathers Momentum") from 1940 is one of his more effective stories of a man hell-bent for destruction and "Boy With Body" (aka "The Corpse and the Kid") which is from 1935 and Woolrich's first use of third person, past tense after turning to crime fiction in 1934. The collection also includes "The Room with Something Wrong" (aka "Murder in Room 913") which many consider one of his best stories. The title story is a rare Woolrich short-short and its pretty good as well. So I would rate this one of the best collections if you can find a copy. There was a Graphic paperback which includes fewer stories than the hardback but all the ones mentioned above. Woolrich (or the book editor) certainly improved on the titles the stories carried in their original pulp appearances.

I would not recommend ANGELS OF DARKNESS (Mysterious Press 1978) which came just before the Woolrich revival of the 1980s. The introduction by Harlan Ellison very frankly states that with one exception this is not Woolrich at his best. Wish I had read that before plunking down money for the limited edition. But the one story he singled out for praise "For the Rest of Her Life" from the May 1968 issue of Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine demonstrates that even at the end of his life, Woolrich could work his old magic.

Richard Moore

--- In rara-avis-l@yahoogroups.com, <funkmasterj@...> wrote:
> I am currently reading Nightwebs. I really enjoy his short stories.
I didn't like Waltz into Darkness, which so far is the only of his novels I've read.
> What collections of his short stories and which novels are best? How
is the Bridge Wore Black vs. Rendezvous in Black?
> Thanks,
> Jordan

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