Wednesday, November 25, 2009


Shoot the Piano Player by David Goodis. Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler may have first brought what is now call "noir" or hard-boiled fiction to the world, but David Goodis was one of those writers (like Jim Thompson) who took readers down further into the lower depths, and we mean this as a compliment. The inspiration for Francois Truffaut's 1960 classic film, this novel of a hard-fallen concert pianist unable to play his way out of the long shadow of his past stands out with its genuine emotional core of despair and grimy gamy details of life as it's lived "Down There" (the novel's original title) on the lower slopes of the American underworld. The criminals who scramble through this ultimate hard-luck story are not cunning criminal geniuses, but bumbling losers whose limited minds and poor impulse control only entangle them further in a web of fate and pull even the best of us around them. One the best books I've read so far this year.

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