Friday, April 22, 2011

Friday's Forgotten Books, April 22, 2011

Next week Richard Robinson will host Friday Forgotten Books. You can send your link here.
He is on PST so things may come up late and the summary will be on Saturday.
Thanks so much, Rick. Patti


Ed Gorman is the author of STRANGLEHOLD, A TICKET TO RIDE and numerous other books, anthologies and stories. You can usually find him here.

The Vengeful Virigin, Gil Brewer

F. Scott Fitzgerald once noted that Hemingway (then at his peak) wrote with the authority of success while Fitzgerald (then in the dumps) wrote with the authority of failure.

The authority of failure is what animates virtually all of Gil Brewer's work and certainly The Vengeful Virgin is no exception. In outline it's nothing new--a very James M. Cainian scenario in which a TV repairman gets involved with an eighteen year old temptress who is taking care of a dying old man (and one we don't take to at all). He's promised to leave her a fortune when he dies. The trouble is he's dying very slowly. It won't surprise you that the temptress has thoughts of inviting the Reaper in a little ahead of schedule.

What makes this one of Gil Brewer's most successful novels is that a couple of the plot turns are truly shocking and that he is in complete control of his material. He paces this one well right up to the end. And the end is a powerhouse.

I mentioned the authority of failure. In Brewer's case it's usually because his protagonists let their dissatisfaction with their lot justify whatever they need to do. They generally learn too late that maybe the old TV repair gig wasn't so bad at all.
Noir is frequently about failure of various kinds and here, as in most of his work, the Brewer protagonist searches for redemption--from mediocrity, from ennui. Redemption takes the form of lust in Brewer's world but what his protagonists really seem to be after is life on their terms, pleasure and singularity in a world where most people are members of the walking dead.
A nifty little novel with the power to jolt.
Contrast this attitude with the reckless but doomed romantics of Charles Williams (whom I prefer). They're smarter than Brewer's men and there's rarely any self-pity. They seem to be on some kind of quest, which is a twist on the Cain-style tale. Yes they meet a bad girl. Yes they do something stupid. But what gets them through is enormous energy and a sense of mission and an undertow of anger. They're like Brewer's men, too, failures. But they are the tarnished knights that Phillip Marlowe and all his imitators only pretended to be.

Yvette Banek
Joe Barone
Paul Bishop
Bill Crider
Scott Cupp
Martin Edwards
Jerry House
Randy Johnson
George Kelley
Rob Kitchin
Rob Kitchin 2
B.V. Lawson
Evan Lewis
Steve Lewis/Jeff Meyerson
Todd Mason
John Norris
David Rachels
James Reasoner
Gerard Saylor
Ron Scheer
Kerrie Smith
Kevin Tipple


Kevin R. Tipple said...

THE TROUBLESHOOTER by Austin S. Camacho is my pick for FFB this week.


Anonymous said...

Anything for next week (link or text) sent to me by 5:00 p.m. PDT will be up by my posting time of about 8:00 P.M. Thursday, the rest will go up first thing in the morning or as they are received.

Some really good stuff this week. Have a great time in D.C., Patti, hope your room is better than in the last place you stayed!!

David Cranmer said...

Quite a review here and several links for me to check on. I usually add at least two to my TBR pile a week.

Jerry House said...

Mine is up. Finally.

Joe Barone said...

You have a very widely read blog. On Fridays when you have picked up an older book from my blog, I get a lot of hits and interesting notes from different people.

Also, I usually click through the forgotten books listed here to see the books others have found or wanted remembered. I've read some good books from their suggestions.

Your gathering "Friday's Forgotten Books" was a wonderful idea. Thanks.

pattinase (abbott) said...

And thank you for contributing to it!

Jack Bates said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jack Bates said...

(Earlier post had too many typos to accept... :))
Vengeful Virgin still sits on my shelf as one of my favorites. The poor sap should have stuck with his appliance business instead of chasing a skirt.

Todd Mason said...

Meanwhile, Megan thinks she's drowning in deja-vu...I just posted about Ed Brubaker for Overlooked A/V the other week, having stumbled across his web-series, while looking at a film I also Overlooked, after listening to an interview with him on Jackie Kashian's THE DORK FOREST, which this week had an episode that discussed Encyclopedia Brown for a bit. Life is very Nested at the mo'.

Ed Brubaker episode of Jackie Kashian's The Dork Forest

Mike Dennis said...

I loved THE VENGEFUL VIRGIN. I would recommend, however, that any potential Gil Brewer fans check out 13 FRENCH STREET and THE BRAT. These novels are noir to the max.