A little nonfiction this time. Tough Guy Writers of the Thirties is a book that changed the course of my life. Before I read it back in 1968, I wasn't sure anyone besides me took hardboiled writing, especially the kind found in paperbacks, worthy of serious consideration. The essays in this book proved that others took it even more seriously than I did, and I was persuaded before I finished reading them that I could convince a committee of English professors to let me write my doctoral dissertation on private-eye fiction.
My favorite essay in the collection will always be R. V. Cassill's "Fear, Purgation, and Sophoclean Light," a meditation on Jim Thompson's The Killer Inside Me. Wonderful stuff. But so are all the others. I don't have time to name them all, if you like tough-guy fiction and the hardboiled school, you have to read this book. Cain, Hammett, Chandler are discussed, of course, but so are plenty of others. McCoy, Gresham, the Black Mask boys, Hemingway, many more. Great stuff, and highly recommended. Plenty of copies available on abebooks. Buy one. Treat yourself.