The Black Curtain
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The Black Curtain

3.82 of 5 stars 3.82  ·  rating details  ·  153 ratings  ·  12 reviews
After a slight accident on a tawdry street, Frank Townsend goes home - only to discover he hasn't been there in years. Suffering from amnesia, accused of murder, and the object of a deadly pursuit, he must overcome the crime that time has thrust upon him...
Mass Market Paperback, 148 pages
Published July 12th 1982 by Ballantine Books (first published 1941)
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Dan Schwent
Frank Townsend is knocked unconscious by a falling piece of plaster. When he comes to, he wanders home to find his apartment empty and his wife gone. He tracks his wife down to find that three years are missing from his memories and that he ran out on her sometime after the last day he can remember. Frank tries to rebuild his fragmented life until a man from the missing three years shows up looking for Frank. Will Frank pierce The Black Curtain and put the missing piece of his life in place?

In the world of The Black Curtain paranoia runs rampant. The protagonist is besieged by he knows not what, and Woolrich's rich command of metaphor effectively insinuates an insidious malevolence into the reader's sensibility. Here's a small sample:
The things of the night began to slink into view. Blue shadows, like tentatively clutching fingers, began a slow creep toward Townsend out from under the trees. Deepening, advancing only furtively when they weren't watched closely, pretending to be arr
Jim Thomas
Dark and atmospheric yet somewhat dated. Woolrich is a sadly forgotten writer considering his tremendous turnout of short stories and novels. One of his books was one of the 5 chosen by The American Library in their collection called American Noir of the 30s & 40s. That book is the strange I Married a Dead Man, a hard one to put down. Another one of his creations was the basis for one of Alfred Hitchcock's most famous movies, Rear Window. The Black Curtain was worth the time since it was les...more
Unless I missed the point somewhere along the way, all the threads weren't tied up at the end (ie, we still don't really know why Frank became Dan in the first place). And as always with Woolrich, there are a lot of lines that I wish he had excised. Some of them work, but for the most part they just come across as rather hammy and belaboring the obvious.
Vintage 1941 pulp fiction -- really fun. Like reading a noir movie. Some of the phraseology set me back a bit. On page 73, "His face was an unbaked cruller of rage." First of all, crullers are fried, not baked. Second of all, what the? But I could overlook that in the midst of such an intriguing, fast-moving plot. Then on page 178, "The ticket seller had hard crullers of stubborness around his eyes." Seriously, take a break, Woolrich, treat yourself to a doughnut and a cup of coffee and get past...more
Tim Schneider
It was a little bit of a struggle to get through this one and I can now see why it is regarded as one of Woolrich's weaker novels. Part of the problem may be retrospective. Was amnesia the horrendous cliche in 1942 that it is today? I'm not sure, but the plot was certainly cliche on this end. It is vintage Woolrich, in that it has incredibly improbable plot turns. However, it is inexplicable in having a rather upbeat (for Woolrich) ending. It's not without all redeeming value, but it is weak eno...more
Ormai è assodato: Cornell Woolrich è una delle migliori scoperte che ho fatto quest'anno grazie ad Anobii.
Dopo "La donna fantasma" ecco un altro noir a 4 (ma anche a 5 se potessi) stelle, incentrato sulla disperata ricerca della verità (e della propria identità) di un uomo che non ricorda assolutamente nulla degli ultimi suoi tre anni di vita. Una scrittura che rende palpabile la tensione, la disperazione di non riuscire a ricordare e la rende con un'atmosfera nebbiosa, che non permette di vede...more
James Hoff
I really really really wanted to like Cornell Woolrich and his work, but it's just not to be. This is the fourth or fifth book of his I have read in the last month and while it's got some good classic elements (essentially a man awakes with no memory and works to find out why he was set up for murder [while the murders set out to kill him]), Woolrich's style and the plot are just a little too stiff for me. Good fun but not really a good book.
The Black Curtain is the story of an amnesiac trying to discover his past. This is my favorite Woolrich, though perhaps not his best. The ending is atrocious--as Woolrich's endings can sometimes be--but the rest of the book is so great that I almost don't care.
January 2012 B&N
This book was okay. It was a short read which was good (about 150 pages) because I don't know if I would have enjoyed a longer book. Writing was okay but I couldn't picture the place for the book, although I could picture the time period.
Nobody writes quite like this cat. When all the odds are stacked against our hero he somehow just gets lucky enough to move on!
Not a very exciting read and extremely predictable.
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Cornell Woolrich is widely regarded as the twentieth century’s finest writer of pure suspense fiction. The author of numerous classic novels and short stories (many of which were turned into classic films) such as Rear Window, The Bride Wore Black, The Night Has a Thousand Eyes, Waltz Into Darkness, and I Married a Dead Man, Woolrich began his career in the 1920s writing mainstream novels that won...more
More about Cornell Woolrich...
Rendezvous in Black The Bride Wore Black Rear Window I Married a Dead Man Night Has a Thousand Eyes

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