Pulp poems, book reviews, and other tidbits from the noirboiled world
Sunday, December 21, 2008
Book Review: Cornell Woolrich, Fright (1950)
Cornell Woolrich fans (myself included) are highly skilled at praising his strengths while discounting his weaknesses. Usually, this means reveling in the momentum of his plots while overlooking their inherent absurdities. Though I give Fright passing marks on the whole, its weaknesses are too great to ignore. Yes, the prose is overwrought, but the greater problem is that the book's protagonist, Prescott Marshall, is not a sympathetic character. I found him self-absorbed an unlikeable from the start, and his problems are problems of his own creation. He is not an innocent victim of the fates, as are many Woolrich heroes, and an unsympathetic Woolrich protagonist can make for tough reading. Grade: C+
Footnote: Fright makes an interesting pair with Seymour Shubin's Witness to Myself (Hard Case Crime, 2006), which covers a similar (but different!) noir landscape.
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.