Hardboiled America: Lurid Paperbacks and the Masters of Noir

Hardboiled America: Lurid Paperbacks and the Masters of Noir

by Geoffrey O'brien
     
 

Dashiell Hammett, Mickey Spillane, James M. Cain, Raymond Chandler, Jim Thompson, David Goodis … these are a few of the masters of noir responsible for the great lurid paperbacks of the thirties, forties, and fifties. With titles like The Big Sleep, Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye, and Street of the Lost, with racy cover lines like "My gun-butt smashed his

Overview

Dashiell Hammett, Mickey Spillane, James M. Cain, Raymond Chandler, Jim Thompson, David Goodis … these are a few of the masters of noir responsible for the great lurid paperbacks of the thirties, forties, and fifties. With titles like The Big Sleep, Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye, and Street of the Lost, with racy cover lines like "My gun-butt smashed his skull!" and "Ruthless terror ripped away the mask that hid cold fear," and with some of the most extraordinary cover illustrations ever to grace American literature, these paperbacks held the ingredients of American nightmares. In Harboiled America—lavishly illustrated with 135 paperback covers, and expanded with new material on Thompson, Goodis, and others—Geoffrey O'Brien masterfully explores the art, history, and ideas of the American paperback.

Editorial Reviews

bn.com
There have been a number of books written about the paperback explosion of the 40s, 50s, and 60s, particularly as regards the hard-boiled crime novel. O'Brien's genius -- and it is nothing less -- is that he understands how many types of literary fiction and crime fiction complemented each other in those days. He sees, for instance, the common perception of the human condition as shared by writers as disparate as John O'Hara and John D. MacDonald; David Goodis and the French existentialists; Charles Williams and Jack Kerouac. They were all of a certain time, of a certain "angle of vision," as Hemingway called it, and of a certain sentimental cynicism, which became a kind of religion for disenchanted romantics. This is a book for serious readers, paperback fans, and collectors alike. Absolutely of the first rank as criticism and an important slice of sociology as well.

—Ed Gorman

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780306807732
Publisher:
Da Capo Press
Publication date:
04/28/1997
Edition description:
Expanded
Pages:
214
Product dimensions:
5.93(w) x 8.99(h) x 0.56(d)

Meet the Author

Geoffrey O'Brien is the author of Floating City: Selected Poems 1978-1995, The Phantom Empire, Dream Time, and other books. Executive editor of The Library of America, he also edited The Reader's Catalog.

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