28 April 2007

Murdaland (warning: story details revealed)

Murdaland is what the hobbled read on warm, still spring days. May 9th I get sliced, and I can get off my James Stewart-in-Rear Window-ass again. At least I'm getting some reading done, and Murdaland has some particularly excellent work in it. The final piece is a David Goodis reprint. It is exciting to discover authors like Stephen Gibson ("Boars") and to revisit others like Ken Bruen ("Words are Cheap"). I'll probably read the whole issue through again before I get #2 in the mail later this year. Too many good stories, and all of them deserve to be read again. In the meantime I will wait patiently for Out of the Gutter #2, and read that with a sharper critical eye than before. The bar has definitely been raised. The other book I finished today is HCC-023, The Last Quarry. Max Allan Collins now has three in the Hard Case Crime paperback library. The Goodis story was called "Professional Man" and it was about a hired killer who had to kill a woman he loved. The Last Quarry was about a hit man who falls in love with his intended victim. I wonder if the Hit-Man-As-Regular-Joe is the flip side of the old Prostitute-With-A-Heart-Of-Gold plot. We know that "fallen" women litter the scenery in noir fiction, and some of them get "redeemed" but mostly they just kill, get killed, or get others to kill for them. If they live, they get to live with the tragedy they (often unwittingly) set in motion. Do men who sell their "services" get the same treatment? Goodis is typically bleak, and the ending is devastating. Collins is more modern, and strangely, more lenient. "Quarry" is a series character, so it makes sense that there is too much invested in him to bump him off. And although Tom Hanks dies in the movie version of Road to Perdition, the end is somber, not tragic. Just points out how good Goodis is.

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