1. "Remember how I used to read to you?
    "Uh huh. Since then, I’ve learned to read by myself."

    —From the Nicholas Ray’s noir classic, In a Lonely Place, staring Humphrey Bogart and Gloria Grahame and based on the novel by Dorothy B. Hughes, who was also the author of The Expendable Man. Both books have a twist, half the fun is seeing if you can pick it up early.

  2. Off On a Tangent: Favorite Books Published Earlier Than 2012 →

    offonatangent:

    I’m a little alarmed that I’ve signed up for at least three different “Best of” Lists for various places that pay me. They’ll be fun to compile but I admit this list, of books I adored that were published in years past (recent or not-so-recent) will be my sentimental favorite of the bunch.

    - The entire backlist of Dorothy B. Hughes, but in particular, THE EXPENDABLE MAN (1963), reissued by NYRB Classics this summer; RIDE THE PINK HORSE (1946); and DREAD JOURNEY (1945), ostensibly about a cross-country train trip where someone will die before the last stop but really a lacerating examination of Hollywood mores of the time. Way more on Hughes in the essay I wrote for the LA Review of Books in August.

    - Thomas Tryon, THE OTHER (1970). Before he turned to novels, Tryon was a promising actor whose career was essentially derailed by noted asshole Otto Preminger’s relentless abuse on set. Tryon quit Hollywood and found his real voice with this, his first novel, about 13-year-old twin boys who are polar opposites: Niles the eager-to-please one, Holland the simmering, surly one. The great thing about THE OTHER is that you’re free to interpret events any way you like, and it’s totally okay. Tryon leaves things that open.

    Raymond Kennedy, RIDE A COCKHORSE (1991) — Another NYRB Classics reissue. My god, what a monster Frankie is! Her transformation sudden, unexplained, but then she takes what she wants (like the high school bandmember in the opening chapter, then leadership of the bank where before she was a mere mousy teller) and it seems great until it isn’t. But what a ride. Shocked glee is the best way to describe reading this book.

    Elizabeth Taylor, ANGEL and A GAME OF HIDE AND SEEK — based on these two books, the first about a young woman determined to be a successful writer (and though she achieves this, it’s also her undoing), the other about the way a brief, aborted love affair hangs over lives for decades afterwards, I clearly need to read more of her books.

    Okay, so we modify the post a bit. But out of the ten “Favorite Book Published Earlier Than 2012” chosen by Sarah Weinman on her blog Off On a Tangent, four of them were our titles. And that’s as it should be.

  3. slaughterhouse90210:

BOOKS I LOVED IN 2012
I hate ranking the things I love. So this year, I decided to go high school yearbook-style and give all of my 2012 book crushes some fancy superlatives.  All have provided great source material, and all are highly recommended.
BEST VINTAGE READ THAT STILL FEELS VITAL: The Expendable Man by Dorothy B. Hughes
Originally published in 1963, with a sparkly new edition released in 2012, Hughes’s crime fiction masterpiece screwed with all of my preconceptions of what noir could be. Even as The Expendable Man details the plight of a protagonist with spectacularly bad wrong-place-at-the-wrong-time luck, it manipulates our expectations and reveals our prejudices. Knife-cuttable tension abounds.

    slaughterhouse90210:

    BOOKS I LOVED IN 2012

    I hate ranking the things I love. So this year, I decided to go high school yearbook-style and give all of my 2012 book crushes some fancy superlatives.  All have provided great source material, and all are highly recommended.

    BEST VINTAGE READ THAT STILL FEELS VITAL: The Expendable Man by Dorothy B. Hughes

    Originally published in 1963, with a sparkly new edition released in 2012, Hughes’s crime fiction masterpiece screwed with all of my preconceptions of what noir could be. Even as The Expendable Man details the plight of a protagonist with spectacularly bad wrong-place-at-the-wrong-time luck, it manipulates our expectations and reveals our prejudices. Knife-cuttable tension abounds.

  4. The Expendable Man in The New Yorker Page-Turner blog

    Her [Dorothy B. Hughes’s] books were widely praised for their atmospheres of fear and suspense, and criticized when they reached, as the New York Times said of The Fallen Sparrow, ‘toward conflict and situations that are rather beyond the usual whodunit scheme.’ But this is Hughes’s point. It is not whodunit, but who-ness itself, that she’s after. By this I do not mean that she asks why—specific motives are as mulish and unanswerable as sin. Crime was never Hughes’s interest, evil was, and to be evil, for her, is to be intolerant of others, of the very fact of the existence of something outside the self. With her poetic powers of description, she makes that evil a sickness in the mind and a landscape to be surveyed.

    —Dorothy B. Hughes’s The Expendable Man was reviewed in the "Page-Turner" blog at The New Yorker by Christine Smallwood. The Expendable Man is a classic of American noir, with a twist that will be spoiled by reading the full review. It also has some wonderful descriptive landscapes of the Arizona desert. As Smallwood puts it:

    Blackness is on the horizon, and Hughes drives the novel straight towards it. In the desert across the tracks from civilization, from the Los Angeles where Densmore is known and respected, the world is all sand—grainy and bland, a wash of blinding neutrals. To keep your eyes focused requires some effort, perhaps some practice. One way to understand The Expendable Man is as an exploration of ‘conscious seeing,’ both for the reader, who learns discernment, and within language itself.

  5. Sarah Weinman has a great piece on the craft of noir author Dorothy B. Hughes in the Los Angeles Review of Books, including her last book, The Expendable Man.

    "A sense of tragedy sets in as you read The Expendable Man in 2012: so much has changed, but so many still cling, stubbornly, to the awful image of How Things Used to Be.”

    lareviewofbooks:

    Today, at the Los Angeles Review of Books: 

    Kate Elswit on Shell Shock Cinema — Afterimages of Trauma

    Sarah Weinman on Dorothy B. HughesThe Expendable ManIn a Lonely Place and The Davidian Report

    “Wilde in the Office” by Kaya Genç — on Oscar Wilde’s career as a magazine editor

  6. As Chester Himes had shown two decades earlier in If He Hollers Let Him Go, the hardboiled noir idiom was well-suited to evoke the pressures and risks of being black in pre-Civil Rights America. Hugh’s upper-middle-class black identity is threatened by the specter of white violence, by the fear of a primordial American racism against which no level of status or attainment can insulate him: ‘It was surprising what old experience remembered could do to a presumably educated, civilized man.’

    Bookforum reviews Dorothy B. Hughes The Expendable Man. Definitely spoils the plot twist, but we love having an author compared to the incomparable Chester Himes. Plus Walter Mosley, Himes’s heir apparent, wrote an afterword for our edition.

  7. Katy Homans has been on a burnt orange + acid green kick recently.Advance copies of The Expendable Man by Dorothy B. Hughes and Dead Souls by Nikolai Gogol, translated by Donald Rayfield; Confusion pin

    Katy Homans has been on a burnt orange + acid green kick recently.
    Advance copies of The Expendable Man by Dorothy B. Hughes and Dead Souls by Nikolai Gogol, translated by Donald Rayfield; Confusion pin