Friday, July 13, 2012

Friday's Forgotten Books, July 13, 2012

Next week we look at the work of Georges Simenon. Other reviews are also
Happy to post any where necessary.

Ed Gorman is the author of the Dev Conrad and Sam McCain series. You can find him here.

Rendezvous In Black by Cornell Woolrich

This is one of Woolrich's famous "Black" books and black it is. Bleak as David Goodis gets his protagonists usually attempt to make some kind of connection to another human being. Not with with Woolrich.

I'm not going to describe the set-up here because laid it flat it is so outlandish you might think twice about reading the book. But Cornell Woolrich was nothing if not shrewd. By the time you figure out what's going on you've had a chance to prepare yourself. You've been putting it all together piece by piece so when the picture is complete you just nod and accept it.

And anyway as with most Woolrich books and stories the set-up doesn't matter all that much anyway. What makes Woolrich Woolrich is how his protagonists respond to the set-up. This novel is built on a series of richly detailed character studies of several men who have begun dying in ways that would be ironic even to them if they could step back and see it with any objectivity.

Woolrich is often compared to Poe and while I think that's fair--they are both masters of claustrophobia and obsession--I think in all Woolrich's real literary father was Guy de Mauppassant. Woolrich has de Mauppassant's fascination with society high and low for one thing, and a sly ear and eye for realistic daily life. There is a lot of Edward Hopper in Woolrich's word paintings of the Thirties and Forties. I'm not sure that Poe an equivalent interest in his own time.

This is my favorite Woolrich novel which is to say that he has told a story of such cleverness and nihilistic power you see why Woolrich is so revered. This is one of those books, one of those books that crush, and linger on long after you finish it.

Brazzaville Beach, William Boyd

I read this in 1991 and starred it in my log. I have only a slim memory of it so most of this comes courtesy of other reviewers. I did love it at the time but couldn't make time to reread it. Still, it's a book and an author worth reading. THE ICE CREAM WARS is another Boyd book enjoyed at the time.

Hope Clearwater is an ecologist working in Africa. She lives alone in a beach house , trying to patch together her shattered life. She came to Africa to participate in primate research and to heal the deep wounds of her marriage to a brilliant English mathematician who went mad; but she soon found herself plunged into another crisis, one that threatened not only her career but also her life. In a book packed with scientific and mathematical metaphors, Boyd explores how people create, defend, ignore, or subvert the belief systems that govern their lives. If on one level this is an intellectual thriller, on another it is very much an exciting and riveting adventure story, and on yet another a subtle examination of the power grid of personal relationships.

Sergio Angelini
Yvette Banek
Joe Barone
Brian Busby
Bill Crider
Scott Cupp
Martin Edwards
Kurt Evans
Jerry House
Randy Johnson
Nick Jones
George Kelley
B.V. Lawson
Evan Lewis
Steve Lewis
Todd Mason
Terrie Moran
Steven Nester
John F. Norris
Juri Nummelin
James Reasoner
Richard Robinson
Gerard Saylor
Ron Scheer
Michael Slind
Kerrie Smith
Kevin Tipple
TomCat and TomCat
Prashant Trikkanad


Anonymous said...

Boyd is yet another of those authors (*sigh*) who is on my "read someday" list that I've never yet read. As always I try to start with the short stories. I see he's been chosen to write the next James Bond novel.

Gotta get started on picking which Simenon to read, otherwise I'll have to review an old one.

Jeff M.

Joe said...

Oh, my! How I used to love Simenon. He got shorter and shorter, but I never read one of his books I didn't like. He is a good choice.

Charles Gramlich said...

Makes me seriously want to read that Woolrich.

Prashant C. Trikannad said...

Boyd has written some good books. He is now going to write the next Bond novel that will be out sometime in 2013. Thanks for including my FFB post, Patti.

Gerard said...

Now I know why Boyd's name sounded familiar. I listened to the audio of RESTLESS and liked it.

John said...

Better late than never. Here's my contribution for this week:

TomCat said...


I love how you skipped my most recent review in favor of the previous one, which, by the way, I totally agree with. Christie as a FFB would be indefensible and I am sorry I had not one of her more lesser known contemporaries lined up, but I felt like taking a well-trodden path for once. :)

pattinase (abbott) said...

I clicked your link yesterday and that came up. I figured that was it. Sorry. I will put up both.

Yvette said...

My entry is/has been up today, Patti. Don't forget to link me when you have a moment. :)

That William Boyd books sounds interesting. I've heard of him but for whatever reason, I've never read him.

pattinase (abbott) said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
pattinase (abbott) said...

I linked it some time ago. Doesn't it show up?