Re: RARA-AVIS: Small Crimes + noir writers from the 30s and 40s

From: Allan Guthrie (
Date: 04 Jun 2008

I guess you're writing neo-hardback-noir rather than neo-paperback-noir, Dave. Very classy!

The book that instantly sprung to mind from the reviewer's description of the kind of "grim noir novel" he's thinking of, is Paul Cain's Fast One. But to answer your own question -- about noir writers as defined by Jack Bludis rather than the reviewer -- in addition to the writers Jeff mentioned, there's also Benjamin Appel, Nathanael West, Edward Anderson, Erskine Caldwell, Richard Hallas, Dorothy Hughes, James Ross, James Curtis, Gerald Butler, Gerald Kersh and no doubt a bunch of others. Certainly noir exploded in the late 40s with the arrival of the paperback original, but it was doing okay in hardcover much earlier.


----- Original Message ----- From: "Dave Zeltserman" <>
>A review in the London Times favorably compared my latest book, Small
> Crimes, with: "the kind of grim noir novel they used to write in the
> Thirties and Forties. There are no good guys, only men who are mean,
> vicious, tough, corrupt and amoral. Action is frenzied and bloody,
> women easy but vulnerable, dialogue curt and the plot not necessarily
> convincing."
> To me this raised the question, who was writing these types of grim
> noir novels in the 30s and 40s?? The only writers I could think of were
> James M. Cain, Cornell Woolrich and David Goodis (at least he started
> in the 40s). If the reviewer had mentioned the 50s instead it would've
> made more sense as it would've opened up a host of other writers,
> including Charles Williams, Gil Brewer, Dan Marlowe, etc. So here's the
> question--who else other than the writers I mentioned were writing noir
> novels in the 30s and 40s (noir with Jack Bludis's definition of
> screwed as opposed to dark + sinister)???

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