Friday, November 18, 2016

FFB: Hard-Boiled -- Bill Pronzini and Jack Adrian, editors

Hard-Boiled is an excellent anthology.  You can see why just by looking at the table of contents down below.  Most of the writers are probably well known to fans of hard-boiled fiction, so you know what a treat the stories are.  A good many of them haven't been reprinted often, so it was especially good to be reading them for the first time.  There were a couple of writers I wasn't familiar with (James Hannah and William Cole) and one I knew under another name (Michael Kerr, who's also Robert Hoskins, a name I was familiar with from science fiction).

The introduction to the volume is excellent, as are all the introductions to the stories, whether by Pronzini or Adrian.  This is a book that anyone interested in the history of crime-fiction fan should own, and since it's from Oxford University Press, it's probably still in print.  It's over 500 pages, but the stories are so much fun that I read it in a couple of days. You can't go wrong with this one.

UPDATE:  Some people (including one of the editors) have mentioned in the comments that the book isn't in print and that there's no e-edtion.  But the Oxford University Press site is selling the book at this link, and they mention that an e-edition is available.  I don't know if you can actually get the book if you order it, but it might be worth a try.

Table of Contents
                    The Scorched Face 
                         By Dashiell Hammett
                    Round Trip 
                         By W. R. Burnett
                         By Raoul Whitfield
                         By Frederick Nebel
                         By Paul Cain
                    Fruit Tramp 
                         By Daniel Mainwaring
                    Brush Fire 
                         By James M. Cain
                    Human Interest Stuff 
                         By Brett Halliday
                    Waiting for Rusty 
                         By William Cole
                    I'll Be Waiting 
                         By Raymond Chandler
                    Marijuana and a Pistol 
                         By Chester Himes
                    Who Said I Was Dead? 
                         By Norbert Davis
                    Nor Iron Bars 
                         By John D. MacDonald
                    Dock Walloper 
                         By Benjamin Appel
                    Three-Ten to Yuma 
                         By Elmore Leonard
                    The Bobby-Soxer 
                         By Jonathan Craig
                    Black Pudding 
                         By David Goodis
                    Guilt-Edged Blonde 
                         By Ross Macdonald
                    Mama's Boy 
                         By David Alexander
                    The Screen Test of Mike Hammer 
                         By Mickey Spillane
                         By Gil Brewer
                    So Pale, So Cold, So Fair 
                         By Leigh Brackett
                    A Piece of Ground 
                         By Helen Nielsen
                    The Merry, Merry Christmas 
                         By Evan Hunter
                    Forever After 
                         By Jim Thompson
                    The Old Pro 
                         By H. A. DeRosso
                    The Saturday Night Deaths 
                         By Michael Kerr
                    Graveyard Shift 
                         By James M. Reasoner
                    Deadhead Coming Down 
                         By Margaret Maron
                    To Florida 
                         By Robert Sampson
                    It's a Hard World 
                         By Andrew Vachss
                    Junior Jackson's Parable 
                         By James Hannah
                         By Faye Kellerman
                    Gravy Train 
                         By James Ellroy
                    Batman's Helpers 
                         By Lawrence Block
                    The Long Silence After 
                         By Ed Gorman


Todd Mason said...

This was one of the first fat Pronzini anthologies I purchased, as opposed to those I'd read in library copies when younger, and you can see why...hadn't heard of Adrian before this, and his great reputation among noir/hb fans. (If I knew why he used that pseudonym, I've forgotten since, and should refresh my memory). Have you read it for the first time recently, Bill, or is this dipping in again, and how many of the stories were familiar? I'd run across a few, including the then-recent Block and the hard to miss (at least if you read the collections or anthologies I had) Brackett and Macdonald (if I remember correctly).

Hard to go wrong. I remember the introduction and notes being as good as one might expect, too.

Jeff Meyerson said...

I checked my records and read this one (can it be?) 21 years ago. Good book. Jack Adrian was a good friend and collaborator with (my late, very good friend) Bob Adey on some locked room anthologies too.

Unknown said...

Todd, I'd dipped into this one before, but this time I read it straight through. There are a few familiar stories, but most of them were new to me when I bought the book. That must have been 21 years ago, but it still looks new.

Graham Powell said...

I read this at the tail end of the great wave of private eye and noir anthologies that came out in the late 80s and early 90s. I thought this was better than any except maybe the Mammoth Book of Private Eye Stories (also edited by Pronzini). Some familiar stories here but also a lot of overlooked one, including the only other story featuring Paul Cain's character "Black".

Rick Robinson said...

It's a good one alright. I think I got it from the library, as I don't have a copy in my catalog. I wonder if the library here has it?

Bill Pronzini said...

Very nice review, Bill. Thanks to you and to the others who praised the anthology. It was a labor of love on my part and that of Jack Adrian (real name Christopher Lowder); remuneration for us, given the amount of work we put into it, was less than modest. It was also a long-range collaboration, since Chris lived in England and I in CA and selections were considered, discussed and agreed upon or rejected strictly by snail mail. Incidentally, the book is not still in print from Oxford. We were promised that it would remain so indefinitely, but it was in fact remaindered less than a year after publication.

George said...

I just ordered a copy of HARD-BOILED. I thought I had a copy, but I can't find it so buying a copy online is the next best option. I admire Bill Pronzini's writing ability, but he's a terrific editor of first-class anthologies, too!

Mathew Paust said...

Just checked at Amazon, and no Kindle version. I hope one is in the works!

Cap'n Bob said...

Oxford still owes me twenty bucks.

Bill Pronzini said...

Well, that's news to me that Oxford is still selling the book and that an ebook edition is available. We were told twenty years ago that it was being remaindered and in fact were offered copies of both the hardcover and trade ppbk editions at the reduced remainder price at that time. Non-bestselling authors/editors are always the last to find out anything publishers are or are not doing with or to their works.

Unknown said...

I know if the book's really for sale, but it does appear to be. It's a paperback edition, which is selling for $29.95, more than the cost of the original hardback. Very interesting.