“Crime Novels: American Noir of the 1930s and 40s,” a collection of six classic, hard-to-pigeonhole masterpieces, is writing that again brings to “Hitting the Books” the noir works of this time period.
The collection is part of the Library of American series from Literary Classics of the U.S., a publisher out of New York City.
This volume’s editor, Robert Polito, describes the six selections: “Evolving out of the terse and violent style of the pulp magazines, American Noir fiction expanded over the decades into a varied, innovative, and profoundly influential body of writing.”
From these noir classics, and the many others that were part of the pulp fiction works that were so popular from the 1930s through the 1950s, came the modern-day mystery and gumshoe works.
Included in this selection is James Cain’s “The Postman Always Rings Twice” and Horace McCoy’s “They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?”
Both of these works are classics that have not only survived the test of time on the shelf, but have become standards by which other such works are measured.
Of local interest, Cain was born in Annapolis, lived in Chestertown, graduated from Washington College (where is father was president) and worked as a reporter for the Baltimore American and Baltimore Sun.
All these stories are no-holds-barred, raw works of human life. These characters touch a place in all of us that we would rather not approach, but we see that place in their words and actions.
One a night before bed is recommended. You won’t need a doctor in the morning, you’ll just be glad there is a morning and a sun.
“When you’re reading a good noir, the shocks and twists have a way of feeling deja vu-like, as if you saw them coming, but hoped the characters would take a left turn ... not answer the phone, not sleep with that woman, not sell drugs to those cops ... but knew they would. It would have been wrong if they didn’t, and the real surprise can be that you care about someone you know is in for hell. You relate to them, even when their hell is so much bigger than your own. But we’re all going to die, and we all make mistakes.
The best noir stories make you forget plot entirely by giving you characters that feel so well-realized you can’t look away as they fall.” ― Ed Brubaker
Gary Thorne is the play-by-play voice of the Orioles on MASN, and the 2016 season is his 10th with the club and 31st covering Major League Baseball. His blog will appear regularly throughout the season. The Orioles and Sarasota County have partnered on the Big League Reader Program, which rewarded kids who read three books in February with tickets to a Grapefruit League game at Ed Smith Stadium in March.
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