My year of reading Noir

According to my Goodreads profile, I read over 60 books this year -- not counting the ones that I abandoned.  As usual, few on my list were new- but I'll get around to those next decade. It was a great year for catching up on the noir classics.  

Among the treasures, I'd count:

The Library of America's Women Crime Writers.  What a revelation this two-volume set was.  First, the magical Laura by Vera Kaspary.  Preminger's film of the same name is a personal favorite, and I dreaded to think that the book would suffer by comparison.  It didn't.    

Another highlight of the collection: Dorothy Hughes's In a Lonely Place.  That's a movie that I also like (by Nicolas Ray, with Bogart and the fabulous Gloria Grahame.) But how much better, darker, and more suspenseful was the novel.  One of those I have to stay up late and finish this books.

Again, the Library of America and more noir in the form of David Goodis.  I was writing a Philadelphia novel, so Goodis had special appeal since he wrote about Philly. He's a poetic writer whose voice sometimes sinks into pathos, but when he's on target, the books soar.  My favorite: The Moon in the Gutter, a delusional excursion through Philly's poorest neighborhoods, where a man's sister has been murdered.  No spoilers.

Product DetailsConfession:  I'd never read the novels of Raymond Chandler. In 2015, read all of them, and then read them again.  He's the master of atmosphere -- and in The Lady in the Lake, the scents of every setting are haunting.  Pine needles, old carpet, salty air, it's all there.


Ross Macdonald: Four Novels of the 1950s: (Library of America #264)

My ever-thoughtful sister sent me a gift of Library of America's Ross Macdonald's Four Novels of the 1950's.  Along with Chandler, Macdonald's another author I'd ignored-- and while Chandler's the master of mood, Macdonald is the master of plot.  His complex, tangled but tight, mysteries must be the best-plotted books ever.  Like everyone, I am in awe of The Galton Case, a novel about guilt that spans generations, and the ever-present prison of family gone awry. 


Another film classic, The Big Clock, led to me to Kenneth Fearing's novel of the same name.  Now, Ray Milland is my idea of the perfect ambiguous hero, and it was such fun to encounter that same moral ambiguity, and witty sophistication in Fearing's novel.  Fearing was a poet, and his facility with imagery really pays off here.  







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