Pulp poems, book reviews, and other tidbits from the noirboiled world
Sunday, June 15, 2008
Book Review: Martin M. Goldsmith, Detour (1939)
Disclaimer: I have seen the movie version of Detour three times before now having read the book, so my reaction to the book is unavoidably colored by my familiarity with the movie (which I love).
Detour the novel alternates between two narrators: Alexander Roth, a jazz musician, and Sue Harvey, a jazz singer. Alex and Sue lived together in New York before Sue left for California to pursue her dreams of Hollywood. Sue's share of the narrative tells of her life in California without Alex. Alex's narrative tells what happens when he tries to hitchhike to California to rejoin Sue. Detour the movie (scripted by Martin M. Goldsmith, who also wrote the novel) tells only Alex's story. In the movie, Sue is already in California, and we never learn anything of what has become of her. In this way, the novel is richer than the movie. Not only do we learn of Sue's fate, but her story and Alex's story enrich each other--his story is made more complex and more powerful by our knowledge of her story, and vice versa.
Unfortunately, there has not been a decent reprint of Detour since the hardback first edition of 1939. Recent paperbacks by O'Bryan House and Blackmask.com are textual disasters. Both seem to have been produced by ten-year-olds who were given OCR software for Christmas. Readers beware! Grade: A
A: Excellent. I intend to read it again. B: Good. I might read it again. C: So-so. I didn't mind reading it. D: Bad. I resented reading it. F: Atrocious. I finished it only because I'm compulsive that way.