Re: RARA-AVIS: Re: Small Crimes

From: Allan Guthrie (
Date: 11 Mar 2010

  • Next message: davezeltserman: "RARA-AVIS: Re: Small Crimes"

    Interesting, Dave. There's no denying that paperback originals exploded in the 50s and gave us a lot of the writers we admire these days. Many of those writers were struggling to find a hardcover publisher and the pbo explosion was something of a godsend. I'm not sure how prevalent noir was in the 50s, though. Most paperback originals weren't that dark. Goodis, Thompson, etc., were exceptions rather than the norm.

    Books like Double Indemnity, How Like A God and Anyone's My Name were highly original in concept at the time they were published. These days they'd seem pretty cliched because they've been imitated so often (I don't know if that's true of HLaG, haven't read it, but I suspect if it failed to get published it would be on account of the second person narrative rather than being too dark). Not sure who published Woolrich or Macdonald originally, but I'm pretty sure Woolrich's first published books weren't crime novels. Incidentally, Erskine Caldwell's debut -- the ultra-noir THE BASTARD, from 1929 -- would appear to have been self-published, something I only recently discovered. Too dark for New York, I suspect. Might also explain why he rarely spoke about it.


    ----- Original Message ----- From: "davezeltserman" <> To: <> Sent: Thursday, March 11, 2010 6:03 PM Subject: RARA-AVIS: Re: Small Crimes

    > Al, thinking about this a little bit, I'll stick with my original
    > observation, and that's that publishing has changed dramatically over the
    > past 25 years, specifically crime fiction, with much more resistance by NY
    > to publish dark crime fiction and real noir. Yes, many of the great noir
    > books from Jim Thompson, David Goodis, Charles Williams, Dan Marlowe,
    > Peter Rabe, etc. came from Gold Medal and other paperback publishers, but
    > at least they existed--today, Hard Case is the only equivalent I can think
    > of, and Charles is publishing a tiny fraction of original crime fiction
    > compared to Gold Medal. And I'll stick by that books like Dead City,
    > Cain's Postman and Double Indemnity, Seymour Shubin's Anyone's My Name,
    > Rex Stout's How Like a God, all published by NY as hardcovers would be
    > just about off limits to NY today. All you have to do is look at the most
    > popular PI from the 50s, Mike Hammer, and the last 25 years, Spenser, to
    > see how much crime fiction changed. Btw. who published Cornell Woolrich
    > and Ross Macdonald originally?
    > --Dave

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