Friday, June 23, 2017

Friday's Forgotten Books, June 23, 2017

Todd will be taking the helm next week as we travel to Stratford to see GUYS AND DOLLS, H.M.S. PINAFORE and THE BACCHAE. Thanks, Todd

Andrew Nette is a writer of fiction and non-fiction, reviewer and pulp scholar.
He is the author of two novels, Ghost Money, a crime story set in Cambodia in the mid-nineties, and Gunshine State.
He is co-editor of Girl Gangs, Biker Boys, and Real Cool Cats: Pulp Fiction and Youth Culture, 1950 to 1980, which will be released by PM Press in late 2017.

The Song Is You
, Megan Abbott
The Song is You is only the second Megan Abbott book I’ve read, but it’s cemented her place in the select group of authors whose work I recommend to friends with undisguised envy about what awaits them.
Hell, can Abbott write and her take on post-Second World War Hollywood is distinctive and razor sharp.
The Song Is You focuses on Gil ‘Hop’ Hopkins, a studio publicity man/fixer/pimp whose beat is “the world of trouble between mid-night and seven am”. Whether it’s rescuing starlets from opium dens and rough trade or procuring quickie abortions for leading men and studio heads who want to maintain their happily married public personas, it’s just a job for Hopkins.
He does what he’s told and doesn’t ask questions until he gets involved in the disappearance of starlet Jean Spangler, two years missing with no clues other than a mysterious note and a swirl of rumours. They shared a moment, if you can call it that, the night before Jean disappeared. A group of them had been drinking hard and they ended up in a seedy harbour side bar, where Hop left Jean in the company of a couple of big name studio crooners with a reputation for playing very rough.
Girls like Jean, drawn to Tinseltown from dust bowl towns across America with stars in the eyes and hopes of making it big, are a dime a dozen in Hop’s world. He’d hardly given her a second thought until a friend of Jean’s makes contact, accusing him of being one of the people responsible for her disappearance.
Soon, fueled by guilt and the need to protect his own arse he’s investigating every last detail about the night in question.
There’s a hard-bitten female journalist who is also looking into Jean’s disappearance, plenty of mob connections and a whiff that Jean may have been involved in her own illegal scam. There’s also plenty of sex. It positively oozes from the pores of the story, amid the mood lighting, calypso music, tiki torches and martinis.
The parallels between The Song Is You and Ellroy’s Black Dahlia are obvious, their noir sensibility, the era they are set in, their mix of fact and fiction, right down to their raven-haired party-girl victims. But there’s something about Abbott’s book that sets it apart.
I think big part of it is her less is more style. This allows her to hint at horrendous events, introduce the sleaziest characters and take us to the very worst places, without collapsing into cliché. She’s also a master of allowing class, sex and social observation to collide in a way that does take away from the precision of her plot and characters.

Sergio Angelini, THE BURNING COURT, John Dickson Carr
Mark Baker, FORCE OF HABIT, Alice Loweecy
Yvette Banek, WAY STATION, Clifford D. Simak
Les Blatt,A SCREAM IN SOHO, John G. Brandon
Bill Crider, LOST HORIZONS, James Hilton 
Scott Cupp, The Continental Op: The Complete Case Files by Dashiell Hammett, 1923 – 1930, Edited by Richard Laymon and Julie M. Rivett 
Martin Edwards, THE CASE OF THE GILDED FLY, Edmund Crispin 
Curt Evans, BOMBAY MAIL, Lawrence Blochman
Richard Horton, CASTLE GARAC, Nicholas Monsarrat
Jerry House, Two by Edgar Rice Burroughs
George Kelley, WAR AND PEACE, Leo Tolstoy
Margot Kinberg, FALLING ANGEL, William Hjortsberg
B.V. Lawson, THE GRAND BABYLON HOTEL, Arnold Bennett
Evan Lewis, POPEYE, E.C. Segar
Todd Mason, THE DUTTON REVIEW, ed. Jerome Charyn et al
Matt Paust, GOD'S RED GIFT, Louis S. Warren
Gerard Saylor, THE GRAVEYARD BOOK, Neil Gaiman
Kevin Tipple/Barry Ergang, DARK PASSAGE, David Goodis
TomCat, DEATH INVITES YOU, Paul Halter


Jeff Meyerson said...

Have fun! GUYS AND DOLLS is Jackie's favorite musical. We've seen it FIVE times (3 in London), including the all-black cast on Broadway,Bob Hoskins, Peter Gallagher, Ewan McGregor, and Imelda Staunton as the best Miss Adelaide ever.

Todd Mason said...

I think I can believe Staunton could shine in that role. Indeed, enjoy the festival!!

My brief entry this week is up: THE DUTTON REVIEW, edited by Jerome Charyn among others...

pattinase (abbott) said...

We saw it on Broadway perhaps twenty years ago.

Yvette said...

Oops, I started a post yesterday and then got busy with something else. Sorry. I'll have something up and running shortly. The mind wanders. :)

Jeff Meyerson said...

December of 1993 was when we saw it last on Broadway (the Peter Gallagher/Nathan Lane/Faith Prince version, played from April 1992 to early 1995.

pattinase (abbott) said...

That was it. Megan was in college and we brought her along.

Yvette said...

My post is finally up, Patti. Sorry for the delay.

Sergio (Tipping My Fedora) said...

Thanks as always Patti - so wonderful books this week!

Mathew Paust said...

The Song is You has just moved to the top of my to-read pile. I'm hesitating, tho, to gift my daughter, Sarah, with it when she comes to visit for her 24th birthday next month. She's been in Tinseltown a couple of years now, getting bit parts and hoping to be discovered, while I sit on the East Coast worrying like hell she'll run into some character like Hop Hopkins--or worse.

pattinase (abbott) said...

It is one of my favorites. I doubt Jean Spangler's fate will be hers. She played around with the wrong people. Although Megan has a friend who has been in LA for 20 years waiting to be discovered. Terribly sad. Early on she was cast in a great sitcom but since then....

Charles Gramlich said...

Hope you have a great time!

miscreant43 said...

As a Stratford resident, I'll predict that you'll love Guys and Dolls and be entranced by both others. But you ought to make time for The Virgin Trial, sequel to last year's surprise smash hit The Last Wife.

pattinase (abbott) said...

We wouldn't get tkts to the play last year so we didn't get tkts to the sequel. Thanks! Can't wait to see them. I would love to live in Stratford.'