Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Book Review: Charles Brockden Brown, Wieland; or The Transformation (1798)

An historically important mess is still a mess. Sometimes cited as an early antecedent to noir—but then again, so is Sophocles. Grade: C

Monday, March 25, 2013

Pulp Poem of the Week

fifteen dollars for a broken jaw,
thirty for a fractured pelvis, and a
hundred for the complete job

     David Goodis
     “Professional Man”

Monday, March 18, 2013

Pulp Poem of the Week

Laugh boys laugh
A few years more and we’ll be dead
And new faces will come and cackle in this place
Laugh boys laugh
For a heavy doom is awaiting you

     Leo Lidz

     “A Happy Thought?
     date unknown

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Book Review: Elliott Chaze, Black Wings Has My Angel (1953)

In 2013, Elliott Chaze’s Black Wings Has My Angel reads like a compendium of noir clichés. This is a partial list: our narrator/antihero—a WWII vet with a permanent head injury who has a mutually abusive relationship with a hooker turned femme fatale—is straight out of Jim Thompson; the armored car heist could come from Richard Stark; the sadistic smalltown cops might have wandered in from Cornell Woolrich; and the novel’s intentionally telegraphed sense of doom could be channeled from David Goodis or Gil Brewer or any of a dozen other Gold Medal novelists. But here’s the thing: Black Wings Has My Angel was published in 1953, before these things had become noir clichés (and when Richard Stark was still nine years away from publishing his first book). Thus, Elliott Chaze did something truly remarkable: He surveyed the world of noir, which was just entering its greatest decade; he discerned those things that made it the blackest; and he blended them into his only noir novel. And then he walked away. Grade: A-

Monday, March 11, 2013

Pulp Poem of the Week

MrS Cob     If you are aS smart
aS you think you are youll
Stop meddling in other peoples
affaires pronto and take a
hint from peopl that Shoot
straight. go back to Europe
and stay there We give you
ONE week to Clear out.After
that the 1st warning is
ACID throw in your face but
next time its DIE.
     Norman Klein
     No! No! The Woman!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Book Review: Charles Williams, Girl Out Back (1958)

Barney Godwin, a typical noir Everyman, discovers that a local swamp rat has lucked into the proceeds of an infamous back robbery, and he schemes to make the money his own. Girl Out Back should have been better, but author Charles Williams makes little effort to explain the motivations of his first-person narrator, especially early in the novel, and he introduces major plot elements in a lazy hey-guess-what-I-just-remembered fashion. Grade: C

Monday, March 4, 2013

Pulp Poem of the Week

I could come in early
any afternoon
and drink her liquor
and give her a roll in the hay,
no questions asked,
no obligations and
no recriminations.
Not because it was me, either.
It was there for anyone
who was friendly,
no stranger,
and had clean fingernails.

     Howard Browne
     “Man in the Dark”