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From Barnes & NobleThere 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.