Night and Fear: A Centenary Collection of Stories

Night and Fear: A Centenary Collection of Stories

by Cornell Woolrich
     
 

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Cornell Woolrich published his first novel in 1926, and throughout the next four decades his fiction riveted the reading public with unparalleled mystery, suspense, and horror. America's most popular pulp magazines published hundreds of his stories. Classic films like Hitchcock's Rear Window, Truffaut's The Bride Wore Black, and Tournier's Black Alibi came

Overview


Cornell Woolrich published his first novel in 1926, and throughout the next four decades his fiction riveted the reading public with unparalleled mystery, suspense, and horror. America's most popular pulp magazines published hundreds of his stories. Classic films like Hitchcock's Rear Window, Truffaut's The Bride Wore Black, and Tournier's Black Alibi came chillingly to the screen from his work. And novels like Deadline at Dawn, Rendezvous in Black, and Night Has a Thousand Eyes gained him the epithet "father of noir." Now with this new centenary volume of previously uncollected suspense fiction edited by Francis M. Nevins—recipient of the Edgar Allan Poe Award for criticism in the mystery field—a whole new generation of mystery readers, as well as his countless fans who have long loved his work, can thrill to the achievement of Cornell Woolrich, the writer deemed to be the Edgar Allan Poe of the twentieth century.

Editorial Reviews

The New York Times
For bedtime reading, nothing beats a claustrophobic tale of fatalistic dread by the supreme master of suspense, Cornell Woolrich, whose score of novels and hundreds of short stories define the essence of noir nihilism … For all the vicious cops (''3 Kills for 1''), heartless mobsters (''Cigarette''), subtle killers (''The Fatal Footlights''), and relentless stalkers of women (''The Death Rose'') and children (''Through a Dead Man's Eye'') who roam these pages, his uncanny narrative perspective keeps pulling us into the mind of the weakest, most helpless character in the story -- the staked goat that senses the danger in the darkness and knows it can't escape. — Marilyn Stasio
The Washington Post
Nevins's collection should remind readers that Woolrich was a powerful original who seemed to believe that violent psychopathology exists not in a human-behavior compartment but on a spectrum, and that under the right circumstances all decent people are capable of beastliness … Woolrich was a sorry mess, and he turned whatever went on in his troubled heart into fiction that pulses with angst and controlled terror. — Richard Lipez
Publishers Weekly
Cornell Woolrich's considerable skill as a noir writer isn't displayed to best advantage in Night and Fear, a collection of 14 previously uncollected short stories, edited and with an introduction by Francis M. Nevins. There are intriguing premises-an off-duty detective attends a matinee with his girlfriend only to realize that the man who has sat down next to her is a wanted killer ("Double Feature"); a man in a diner notices another's curious furtive examination of sugar bowls ("The Heavy Sugar")-but too often these tales rely on coincidental gimmicks such as just-in-time rescues by a father or boyfriend in place of Woolrich's usual potent mix of suspense, hints of the supernatural and a pervasive atmosphere of despair. This is a book for completists, not newcomers. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Editor Nevins crowns Woolrich "the Hitchcock of the written word"-high praise but apt. The 14 stories gathered here cover a full four-plus decades (1926-70) of Woolrich's contributions to mystery publications, from long-defunct pulps on up to magazines still thriving. Though hard-boiled and gritty, Woolrich's stories differ from those of Hammett and Chandler in that they are more thrillers than detective yarns. The plots unfold the act of crime itself rather than its solution. And like Hitchcock, Woolrich's characters-mostly cops or crooks-are ordinary people thrust into extraordinary circumstances. Mysteries and thrillers in the short story form generally suffer from shallow plots and character development, but Woolrich mostly manages to provide enough of both to keep things moving and often adds a good twist as a kicker at the conclusion. Woolrich's stories go down like a shot of straight whiskey that shocks the senses but soon has you reaching for another. A worthy title for all mystery collections; highly recommended.-Michael Rogers, "Library Journal" Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A poisoned garland of 14 uncollected stories from the nerve center of American noir. Woolrich (1903-68) memorialized modern American anxiety in a series of oft-filmed big-city thrillers from The Bride Wore Black (1940) to Rendezvous in Black (1948). Yet most of his writing was poured into such pulp formulas as the corrupt cop who'll do anything to get his man and the innocent flower who stakes herself as bait for a serial killer. In his trenchant introductory review of the author's life and work, Woolrich's biographer (Leap Day, 2003, etc.) properly notes the literary sins (reliance on wild coincidences and indiscriminately gloomy stylistic effects) that he inherited from his literary godfather Poe, sins that have limited his readership to a genre audience. When Nevins comments on individual stories, however-all but one of them from 1936 to 1943-they all sound like gems and classics. They're not, though Woolrich has a gift for creating arresting openings (one cop who spots a wanted man in a darkened movie theater, another who devotes his life to following a killer the law won't touch) in addition to his well-known knack of ratcheting up the thrills. The final story, the virtually plotless "New York Blues" (1970), shows how closely connected Woolrich's weaknesses were to his truly evocative strengths. Perhaps the biggest surprise in this ragged but provocative collection is the deep sentimentality at the roots of noir. Scholars, please note. Agent: Alan Nevins/The Firm

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780786715534
Publisher:
Avalon Publishing Group
Publication date:
03/18/2005
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
416
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.25(h) x (d)

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