Possible Group Reads
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Meanwhile... if anyone else is as interested in better understanding the film or literary genres of the group as I am - I do have some suggestions for us.
On film noir:
The volumes which look most appropriate for a group read in general, and in length, price, and relevance to our discussions are...
Film Noir by Andrew Spicer
Blackout: World War II and the Origins of Film Noir by Sheri Chinen Biesen
Street With No Name: A History of Classic American Film Noir, by Andrew Dickos
Both of the latter are well-reviewed on Amazon, though no copies seem to be present in LT. I'd also consider More than Night: Film Noir in its Contexts or The Dark Side of the Screen: Film Noir if one of those was strongly preferred. The trio I've listed doesn't appear to require as intense an interest in film as, say, most of the books written or edited by Alain Silver, etc.
On harboiled/noir books:
I suggest Hardboiled America: Lurid Paperbacks and the Masters of Noir, by Geoffrey O'Brien. I've seen nothing to rival it, and both genres are covered. It's supposed to be illustrated with a number of vintage covers, as well as discussing the authors and books of the pupl era.
Do any of those sound good? Or do you know of something better? First choices, second choices, or no choices at all?? Comments, please! ;)
Anyone else for Jim Thompson? After Dark, My Sweet's fine with me, but I'm open to doing one of his others; whatever we can get the best group together for.
And... a non-fiction read could be concurrent, or previous, or following, depending. :) These don't have to be mutually exclusionary. I know it may be up fewer people's alley, but if even two or three people are interested (besides me), it might be well worth going ahead. What do you think?
I mentioned 'concurrently' as an option, but think after might be easier. Also, I tried to stay with the intelligent, yet steer clear of the most arcane and overly-academic (as well as the fan books and film guides). The only book I mentioned not available at Amazon UK is More than Night: Film Noir in its Contexts.
As the prices will mean more to you than to me, if you or any fellow readers-over-the-water happen to look - let me know whether any of them are in a good (acceptable) price range for you. - Presuming you're interested! :)
If you are a movie buff, The Grifters is another of his books that was later turned into a film.
While this is moderately disappointing, I was very surprised when I found that not one of the three suburban bookstores I visited contained a single copy of Chandler, Hammett, Thompson, Cain or Ross MacDonald. This is more than a disappointment, it is sad. One complete shelf to Patricia Cornwell, not a single slot for Chandler.
It appears that retailers have completely replaced booksellers.
Also, in that case, we may want to think ahead (quickly) about subsequent reads. If we plan one or two now, it'd allow you time. Anyone up for thinking about it?
My post was more a reaction to disappointment with the state of suburban booksellers, than it was with the difficulty of sourcing After Dark, My Sweet. Disappointment may be an understatement: I am obliged to return to one of these retailers this afternoon with an apology.
We'll go ahead on a Sept. 1st schedule, but hope your own book arrives quickly, and not hurry our conversation. (It's so slim a volume, I expect the actual reading will be quite fast.)
For future reads I have two Chandler's I haven't read - Pick up on Noon Street and The Simple Art of Murder and it looks like from the touchstones those are both short story collections! Damn. All my other Noir-like books are either by obscure authors or borderline genre. I guess I'll be ordering more books! :)
As the former (Pick Up on Noon Street) seems simply an excerpt from the latter (The Simple Art of Murder), I'd go with The Simple Art of Murder. Anyone else interested in this, or do we have other thoughts for the third book?
Hardboiled America seems an eminently appropriate second.
Only five of us have Rendezvous in Black; a number of others (13 to 15) have Shoot the Piano Player. That's still a minority, though, and the ratings tended to be high. Any takers?
Factory series definitely
Any of those appeal?
Anyone interested in a more ambitious project to read great noir (and a bit about it), or shall we stick to a three-book trial run?
I'd be happy to take on a more ambitious review of the "genre". But I'm in the (maybe) unusual position of only taking on assignments when they suit me. In a prior life it would have been very very difficult.
What would be the critical mass? 4 or 6 participants? or more?
We're what, 2/3 of the way there? ;)
I'd also say, no one would have to do every book we chose - so long as most of us did most of them, and perhaps once in a while others joined in for a particular read. I'd just hate to get below four. (For any given book.)
He died with his eyes open and They shoot horses, don't they just have such great titles that I am game for either of those.
After we get through the popular authors we should target some of the more obscure - does anyone know do they do any reprints of Vin Packer? I have a few of her books - I only think one in my collection is Noir though, but she did write some good ones that fit in the genre.
And to a page devoted to Vin Packer covers: http://www.mekerr.com/vinpacker.html
Vin Packer is a pseudonym of Marijane Meaker, AKA M.E. Kerr, AKA Mary James.
Under the Packer pseudonym, Meaker wrote about the people and headlines of the day. Thus, one novel was loosely based on Peyton Place author Grace Metalious and another, The Evil Friendship, was loosely based on the childhood misadventure of Anne Perry.
Dark Don't Catch Me was written in response to the murder of Emmett Till in segregated Mississsippi. There is an informative piece here: http://www.sarahweinman.com/confessions/2005/01/some_books_real.html
A very nice find, devilbuny!
Vin Packer has always fascinated me because she was a woman writing in the forbidden genres and she used her pseudonym so her fans wouldn't know it. I have three of her books currently, I have Spring Fire, Dark Intruder and The Damnation of Adam Blessing. I still haven't read any three of them - bad me, need to get to those also. But I do know Spring Fire is about an illicit love afair between two women. Dark Intruder is about a love triangle involving a father/daughter. The Damnation of Adam Blessing I believe is a Noir book, has sex and crime in it. Also I have heard The Thrill Kids and The Young and the Violent are really good Noir books.
Thanks BlindHog for the websites - really great!
Ride the Pink Horse is a little more exotic... but seedy... and I've never read The Blackbirder. Has anyone else?
Lets see I thnk we should sum up the books that are mentioned and then take a vote on them so we can pick up the next one.
David Goodis' Shoot the Piano Player - Once upon a time Eddie played concert piano to reverent audiences at Carnegie Hall. Now he bangs out honky-tonk for drunks in a dive in Philadelphia. But then two people walk into Eddie's life -- the first promising Eddie a future, the other dragging him back into a treacherous past.
Cornell Woolrich's Rendezvous in Black - On a mild midwestern night in the early 1940's, Johnny Marr leans against a drugstore wall. He's waiting for Dorothy, his fiancee, and tonight is the last night they'll be meeting here, for it's May 31st, and June 1st marks their wedding day. But she's late, and Johnny soon learns of a horrible accident--an accident involving a group of drunken men, a low-flying charter plane, and an empty liquor bottle. In one short moment Johnny loses all that matters to him and his life is shattered. He vows to take from these men exactally what they took from him.
The Devil's Home on Leave by Derek Raymond - The series is a grim view of London's criminal underground and a policeman who understands it completely. The sergeant works for a small division of the force that deals with whatever the serious crime unit deems to be too low-profile: vagrants, prostitutes - the forlorn and the forgotten. The sergeant investigates the revolting murder of a man with only his memoirs as a guide, the killer having reduced the corpse to unidentifiable fragments.
He Died with His Eyes Open by Derek Raymond - It follows the narrator, a nameless English detective, during his pursuit/descent while trying to find those guilty of a violent murder. Through writings and tape recorded thoughts recovered from the victim, the detective becomes increasingly attached to the persona of the deceased. The prose is stark, elegant, incredibly philosophical, and yields a wealth of great quotes.
Horace McCoy's They Shoot Horses, Don't They - A series of extended flashbacks recalled by a prisoner as he stands before a judge pronouncing sentence upon him. But although the novel's structure drew considerable comment at the time, HORSES is best recalled for its vivid portrait of the depression-era fad for Marathon Dances and the gritty tone in which it sketches its desperate characters.
The Evil Friendship by Vin Packer - Lesbian novel from the 1950's based on a true crime, it is a fictionalized account of the New Zealand Parker-Hulme case, filmed by Peter Jackson as Heavenly Creatures.
The Blackbirder by Dorothy B. Hughes - Born of American expatriate parents, Julie Guilles was a pretty, sheltered rich girl growing up in Paris, a favorite of the "Ritz Bar" set. But everything changed when the Nazis rolled into the City of Lights. After three years of life underground, Julie is hiding out in New York; but she knows trouble is coming when the corpse of an acquaintance appears on her doorstep. With a host of possible dangers on her tail-the Gestapo, the FBI and the New York cops-she embarks on a desperate journey to Santa Fe in search of her last, best hope. "The Blackbirder"is a legend among refugees, a trafficker in human souls who flies under the radar to bring people to safety across the Mexican border-for a price.
So everyone vote for your first and second choices and we shall see who the winners are! I tried to pick books that seemed to peek everyone's interest and that it seemed very few of us have read - the snopsis for each I found on various places on the internet.
1stThe Evil Friendship - because I love books based on true crime and I don't know much about this murder case.
2ndRendezvous in Black - because I love revenge stories.
1st The Blackbirder
2nd Rendezvous in Black
3rd He Died With His Eyes Open
I'd be open to others, of course, but those are more or less accurately the 'favorites.'
More urgently, I'd be delighted to go with Cornell Woolrich's Rendezvous in Black, if we can muster any other readers. :)
Even past readers willing to discuss it would flesh our numbers out nicely. Anyone willing? (Besides tartalom, devilbuny, and me?)
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