Saturday, June 6, 2009

Book Review: Gil Brewer, The Girl from Hateville [a.k.a. The Angry Dream] (1957)

The Girl from Hateville (originally published in hardback as The Angry Dream) reads like the outline of a Gil Brewer novel--the outline of a bad Gil Brewer novel. The narrative is so thin that it often feels like there are paragraphs missing. In one paragraph, Al Harper, the novel's narrator, will be standing in his house, and in the next paragraph he will suddenly be in his car. Or, in the course of a conversation, a character will "repeat" something that no one has previously said. (It makes me wonder if pieces of text got lost in the move from hardback to paperback--not that the answer is particularly worth finding out.) But the big sin is all those missing paragraphs that are needed to make the behavior of Al Harper even remotely believable. Or to make the novel's ending a little bit less laughable. The premise in a nutshell: Al Harper returns to his hometown. Everyone hates him there because his father, who was the town banker, robbed everyone blind. Al's father (apparently) committed suicide after (supposedly) emptying more than $200,000 from the vault. Al wants to know the truth about his father, and of course there are a couple of good-looking women involved. In sum, conventional noir . . . that crashes and burns. Grade: F

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