Friday, February 11, 2011

Forgotten Books: The Naked Year -- Philip Atlee

This is the Lion Books edition of Philip Atlee's 1940 novel The Inheritors. I'm not sure if it was published originally under the Atlee name or under Atlee's real name, James Atlee Phillips. As Philip Atlee, as we all know, he went on to write the Joe Gall series for Gold Medal.

As you can tell from the cover, The Naked Year isn't a crime novel. It's a straight novel, sort of a hardboiled Gatsby, set in Fort Worth, Texas. When this book was published, Texas had just become an urban state, with more people living in cities t
han on farms. Writers many years later were still complaining about the fact that Texas writers continued to about the state as if it were rural (some of us are still doing that) instead of tackling the stories of people in the big urban environments. This book was way ahead of its time, according to A. C. Greene, who gave it a coveted spot in his 50 Best Books about Texas.

There's plenty of sensationalism if that's what you're looking for. Lots of drinking, sex (nothing overt), and abortion (sensational for the time the book was published, for sure). Excellent writing, and at least one truly disturbing scene when the thrill-seeking youth go out to the local city dump to shoot rats at night.

Anybody interested in Atlee's work in the Joe Gall books should certainly take a look at this one to see where Atlee started.


Alice Chang said...

So, did JAP/PA follow a Hammett/Woolrich path, and initially hope to do contemporary mimetic "social" fiction, only to find a stronger reception for his crime fiction?

Seems like McMurtry was paying attention to the demographic changes, at very least. Time for the Crider equivalent to (and improvement on) CONDOMINIUM! (Surely not THE LAST 'GATOR SHOW...nor 'GATOR RICH...)

George said...

I've been a fan of Philip Atlee Philips' work especially those Joe Gall books. I read THE NAKED YEAR long, long ago but still have fond memories of it.

Todd Mason said...

Well, Firefox and Blogger didn't like each other for the first attempt at posting...I was wondering if JAP/PA was following a Hammett/Woolrich path...hoping to do contemporary/mimetic fiction in this mode, but finding a much happier audience for crime fiction from him?

This also got me wondering about new, perhaps bugcrusher-sized Crider novels of urban Texas...THE LAST 'GATOR SHOW...'GATOR RICH...

pattinase (abbott) said...

That cover looks like a lot of work. An inane comment but you rarely see a cover with that many people portrayed.

Evan Lewis said...

I'll bet that edition on the bottom outsold the other one. A title like that needs naked people on the cover.