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Just a thought. :) I'll try to look in on you all while I'm gone; if that fails, I'll 'see you' when I get back. Have a great week!
The Long Goodbye Raymond Chandler
The Postman always rings twice James M. Cain
A rage in Harlem Chester Himes
The Maltese Falcon Dashiell Hammett
Devil in a blue dress Walter Moseley
The man who watched trains go by Georges Simenon
The Pledge Friedrich Durrenmatt
Ripley Under Ground Patricia Highsmith
or moving the goalposts slightly:
Suedehead Richard Allen
A Wild Sheep Chase Haruki Murakami
Low Life Luc Sante
Gangs of New York Herbert Asbury
Billy Phelan's Greatest Game William Kennedy
That said, and with an honest attempt at not repeating books that have been previously nominated, here are my suggestions:
W.R. Burnett -- The Asphalt Jungle and High Sierra, although I would argue for Little Caesar's inclusion as well: the book has a very noirish dénouement that doesn't quite come through in the movie version.
Eric Ambler -- A Coffin for Dimitrios (a.k.a. The Mask of Dimitrios; filmed as The Mask of Dimitrios in 1944, starring Peter Lorre)
William Lindsay Gresham -- Nightmare Alley (1946; filmed the following year starring Tyrone Power)
Raymond Chandler -- Farewell, My Lovely
William Faulkner -- Sanctuary (not sure about the sequel, Requiem For a Nun, as I haven't read it yet; from what I've read about it, I'd guess that it shouldn't be included)
B. Traven -- The Treasure of the Sierra Madre and the third book in his six-book Jungle series (which relates how the roots of the Mexican Revolution sprouted in southern Mexico among the Indians of Chiapas), March to the Montería
Jim Thompson -- The Killer Inside Me
Charles Willeford -- Woman Chaser (a.k.a. The Director; a quick novel about a heel who manages to make his dream movie, The Man Who Got Away; if made, this movie-within-the-novel would be one of the greatest noir movies ever made)
Joseph Hansen -- Steps Going Down -- a brilliant stand-alone thriller from the author of the 11-book series featuring gay insurance investigator David Brandstetter
Graham Greene -- Ministry of Fear; conversely (possibly perversely...), I don't consider his A Gun For Sale (filmed in 1942 as This Gun For Hire with Alan Ladd and Veronica Lake) to be as strong a candidate for noir classification
**Special honorary mention:**
Hubert Selby, Jr. -- Last Exit to Brooklyn
Joel Rose -- Kill Kill Faster Faster
Alan Furst -- The World at Night (the most noir-ish of his novels that I've yet read, and it seems to be a nod to Melville's 1969 film Army of Shadows)
Ian Fleming -- Casino Royale -- the only James Bond book that I know of that has a noir sensibility
Nathaniel West -- Miss Lonelyhearts; satiric, but with enough noir elements to satisfy most fans, methinks
Loren D. Estelman -- Whiskey River -- first in the author's series of historical crime novels set in and around Detroit, Michigan, this one is set during Prohibition and is a bit too light to be a true noir, but the gun battle between carloads of bootleggers on a frozen Lake Erie, lifted from Eisenstein's Alexander Nevsky, is great fun
Mike Resnick -- Redbeard -- an early science-fantasy tale from the author set in a post-apocalyptic hell of the future, this short novel seeps noir from its pores
Chelsea Quinn Yarbro -- Darker Than Jewels -- one of the author's long-running Count Saint-Germain series, this one finds the Count, going by the name of Ragoczy, in the court of Ivan IV, styled "The Terrible;" here the reader and the Count discover that the worst villains in the world aren't always, or usually, supernatural; they're people
Richard Wright -- Native Son -- a bit too preachy, didactic and courtroomish for a true noir, it nonetheless contains elements of noir that make this book, IMHO, a better read than Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man, a work that Native Son is often paired with in literature courses.
Harlan Ellison -- Memos From Purgatory -- a memoir of the author's undercover stint in a youth gang in the Red Hook neighborhood of Brooklyn, NYC in the 1950s (he was gathering material for a magazine article on gangs), Memos contains all the raw material for a noir but doesn't quite become one. I tend to like Ellison's non-fiction better than his fiction, and this one is definitely worth a read.
Bill Buford -- Among the Thugs -- the author's memoir of his time spent with football (soccer) hooligans in England, including a hair-raising World Cup road trip to Italy that culminated in a "footie" riot being quelled by the Italian army (!), this is a jaw-dropping account of senseless violence, substance abuse, smash-and-grab thievery and rampant racism. Some of the details seem cartoonish or, at minimum, geared towards a Hollywood movie (like the football supporters who printed up business cards reading "You've just been pummeled by ____," which they leave atop the fallen bodies of their victims, or like one exceptionally violent, exceptionally dim -- and, all things considered, execptionally lucky -- hooligan who severely injures an upper-ranking police officer); but, again, here is the raw material for pulpy, hard-boiled tales a'plenty, even if the setting is a bit fantastical for American audiences.
Seth Morgan -- Homeboy -- the author's only published book, this novel is a bit too pyrotechnic to rest entirely within the grim confines of noir, but Morgan's flamboyantly inventive language and hellzapoppin' plotting keep this lurid tale of junkies, pushers, hustlers, whores, bikers, thieves, pimps, cops and baaaaaad mo-fos cracklin' until the somewhat disappointing conclusion. One of Janis Joplin's boyfriends and an ex-convict, Morgan abruptly ended his life and the life of his girlfriend by launching the motorcycle they were riding into eternity. Watch out for the yen shee baby....
Saburo Shiroyama -- War Criminal: The Life and Death of Hirota Koki (translated by John Bester) -- a biography/history of the erstwhile foreign minister and prime minister of Japan while it was in the grip of the militarists who was the only innocent man hanged by the occupying American forces in 1948, all because his personal ethics forbad him to defend himself or rat out the swinish Japanese officers who were frantically trying to save their own necks, this book shows how sometimes the noir and existentialist authors are cock-eyed optimists compared to what actually happens in the real world. The Nazis actually get to wear the white hat here due to their positive role in the Rape of Nanking (Nanjing), an atrocity which has yet to be recognized by the Japanese government.
**Unread by me but seems appropriate**:
Jack Henry Abbott -- In the Belly of the Beast -- a memoir of the author's stint in prison, he became a cause celebre among the glitterati and literati -- chiefly Norman Mailer and Susan Sarandon (who named one of her kids after him) -- who were able to get him released largely on the strength of his writing here. Just six weeks after getting out and finding himself the toast of the town in NYC, Abbott killed a man in a Manhattan diner when he was told that the restroom was for staff use only. Abbott was flung back into the jernt for life, Mailer had egg on his face for quite a spell, and in 2002 Abbott hanged himself, leaving behind a suicide note which has yet to be made public. If that ain't noir and/or hard-boiled, I don't know what is.
**Non-fictional background material:**
George Chauncey -- Gay New York: The Making of the Gay Male World, 1890 - 1940 -- if Luc Sante's excellent Low Life: The Lures and Snares of Old New York can be included, presumably as background material, I think that Gay New York deserves a spot too. Unfortunately the book, while extremely comprehensive and heavily footnoted, does not seem to include very much material on the intersection between the criminal and homosexual underworlds in the early 20th century (tantalizingly hinted at in W.R. Burnett's Little Caesar and developed a bit more fully in John Peyton Cooke's novelization of the Cleveland Torso Murders of the 1930s, Torsos: A Novel of Dark Intent) -- largely due to the lack of solid sources, I suspect.
Robert Lacey -- Little Man: Meyer Lansky and the Gangster Life -- an invaluable look at the classic gangster era in the United States and a biography of Lansky and his family, Lacey manages to touch upon such matters as the political origins of the word "gangster," the gangster/terrorist elements in the birth of Israel, and the role of anti-Semitism in building the American gangster myth (viz. "We're as big as U.S. Steel," the line breathed by Hyman Roth to Michael Corleone in The Godfather, Part II; the character of Roth is based on Lansky) while painting a seamy, compelling and almost unbearably sad portrait of Lansky's family that is every bit as devastating as the Corleone saga in the first two Godfather movies. Arguably more existential in tone than noir, it nonetheless supplies much useful real world background information to the noir and hard-boiled genres.
Alain Silver and Elizabeth Ward, eds. -- Film Noir: An Encyclopedic Reference to the American Style, Third Edition -- I doubt if anyone, including the contributing authors to this volume, will agree with each and every review here (I for one am scandalized at the complete misreading given to James M. Cain's classic domestic novel Mildred Pierce and the positive review given to the Joan Crawford travesty) -- or agree that every movie included here should be included here; nonetheless, for anyone interested in the genre, this book is absolutely essential, and is copiously illustrated with some very nice stills.
Another nomination for background reading:
Donald Thomas -- The Enemy Within: Hucksters, Racketeers, Deserters, and Civilians During the Second World War (first published in the UK under the title: An Underworld at War: Spivs, Deserters, Racketeers and Civilians in the Second World War) -- not much more description should be needed with a title like that; here is an account of some of the source material informing the work of Graham Greene, Peter Cheyney, and such later dreck as the deadly dull movie Chicago Joe and the Showgirl. Thomas previously wrote the histories The Victorian Underworld and Cochrane: Britain's Sea Wolf, and has gone on to write some Sherlock Holmes stories. (He's written quite a bit of other things as well, but none of them seem right for inclusion here.)
Oh yeah -nearly forgot W Howard Baker aka W A Ballinger aka Peter Saxon aka William Arthur aka Bill Rekab - became editor of the Sexton Blake Library in the `50s, and introduced a more pulp-influenced style. Also introduced `new boy` writers like Jack Trevor Story and Martin Thomas (real name Thomas Martin.
Another oversight Hank Janson aka Stephen Frances - I have read one book he wrote under his own name, which I didn`t rate at all. Since then, I`ve read one of his Sexton Blakestories (written as Richard Williams) which I loved - was amazed to find it was by the same writer.
The weird thing is - why do so many writers use pseudonyms? Is it like musicians, i.e, they`re contracted to one company and use a different name to do workfor another company ?
14MikeCulpepper Primeira Mensagem
#14 I'd add "La Bete Humaine" to Zola's noir
novels. Also some favorites: Dorothy B Hughes,
Helen Nielsen, Horace McCoy, Charles Williams, Harry Whittington, Patricia Highsmith and Francis Carco.
I would also add:
The Killer Inside Me by Jim Thompson (1952)
Shoot The Piano Player by David Goodis (1956)
You'll Die Next by Harry Whittington (1954)
13 French Street by Gil Brewer (1951)
Cruel Poetry by Vicki Hendricks (2007)
The Asphalt Jungle by WR Burnett (1949)
plus two little-known gems:
The Gambler by William Krasner (1950)
Street 8 by Douglas Fairbairn (1977)
Street 8 is a great noir tale that takes place in Miami during the pre-cocaine cowboy days, when Cubans were moving into positions of power in all levels of the city. Most Florida crime novelists will tell you that this novel had a big influence on them. I wrote a full review of it on my website. To check it out, go to http://mikedennisnoir.com/review-street-8/604/
Miss Callaghan Comes to Grief
"BANNED IN THE UK! AUTHOR AND PUBLISHER FINED! NOT SEEN FOR 70 YEARS!"
White slavery and racist language! ;-)
Saw Raymond Chandler mentioned but don't think anyone said The Big Sleep, which is certainly his most famous work and would have to go on any list of essential noir. And Mickey Spillane has to appear on any list of influential hardboiled writers, I think.
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