I might never have known this book existed, if I hadn't seen the Nicholas Ray film a few years back. This book version reminds me of the Jim ThompsonI might never have known this book existed, if I hadn't seen the Nicholas Ray film a few years back. This book version reminds me of the Jim Thompson books I've read so far, except of course the gender of the writer is different, which I think was a rarity in this type of literature back in the 40s. This has the same kind of atmosphere than in Raymond Chandler's and his pals' hardboiled detective stories, but like in Thompson's novels, the story is experienced through the eyes of the criminal. The grasp of the law tightens around him and the reader gets to wait the moment when/if he gets caught.
Whereas in the film Steele has an explosive temperament, Hughes focuses on the silent menacing appearance of her protagonist. A young and ordinary man doesn't even get noticed by eyewitnesses. Occasionally Steele becomes reckless and arrogant, and tries to convince himself that he will never get caught, by making up explanations as to why everything has to turn alright. He even starts shedding tears when his head feels like exploding from irritation and anxiety, but the tears don't seem real, they just seem to come automatically. Like in Thompson's novels, you don't feel sorry for the protagonist, or at least I personally just focused on pondering whether he had done any mistakes or will he get away with a perfect crime. Things get complicated when Steele rekindles his relationship with his old friend Brub, who happens to work as a policeman.
I'm glad this aspect exists in the book, because it brings a lot more tension to the otherwise monotonic narration. By introducing Brub you can never be sure whether he suspects something, giving room for the reader to make own conclusions, because the narrator isn't all-knowing. However, Hughes's writing style wasn't my cup of tea. Despite the promising beginning the sentences started to be cut abruptly into short fragments, and there was also too mcuh repetition for my taste. A bit boring read, although Hughes described a shattered mind quite nicely. Overall this was ok, even if I did had high expectations....more
I believe the title is a word play from "cock sucker"? Would fit in nicely, since the characters seem to be a bunch of morons, who also happen to haveI believe the title is a word play from "cock sucker"? Would fit in nicely, since the characters seem to be a bunch of morons, who also happen to have difficulties in sorting out their lives. "Cork sucker" might mean someone who has problems with alcohol.
I have to say I was slightly disappointed. The stories were relatively entertaining, and some of the characters delightfully crazy (the giant snake story was gross but amusing). As a whole the collection just seemed a bit flat, or maybe I just didn't get the deeper meaning behind it. I usually expect a fantastic idea or some sort of twist in my short stories, so maybe this just didn't have a chance in the first place.
I did appreciate Fante showing us the other side of Los Angeles, it's way more interesting than pumped up Barbies. Fante has been compared to Charles Bukowski, so I'd maybe recommend this to his fans....more
2.5 stars. I knew beforehand that apart from Brideshead Revisited, Waugh's novels are quite light and humorous, which was why I have been avoiding rea2.5 stars. I knew beforehand that apart from Brideshead Revisited, Waugh's novels are quite light and humorous, which was why I have been avoiding reading more of his stuff. This didn't make any exception in my aversion for reading humorous literature. I can still appreciate the sharpness that black humour gives to the story, but I still didn't care for the caricaturish characters. Then again, the personalities of the Los Angeles British community were quite good....more
Empty and crumbling sets, weird architecture, starlets thirsting to be famous, religious fanatics, tired and sick artists, aggressive midgets, cockfigEmpty and crumbling sets, weird architecture, starlets thirsting to be famous, religious fanatics, tired and sick artists, aggressive midgets, cockfight-organising Mexicans, illusioned individuals, restless crowds, fake horses at the bottom of pools... Everything that makes (or made?) Los Angeles so wonderfully bizarre. A breeding ground of fake people, artistic people, and downright crazy people. West's execution wasn't the best, making the story a bit of a jumble and leaving nothing you can grab onto, but the basic idea was fantastic. Now, onto the movie!
This was the final dumping ground. He thought of Janvier's "Sargasso Sea." Just as that imaginary body of water was a history of civilization in the form of a marine junkyard, the studio lot was one in the form of a dream dump. A Sargasso of the imagination!...more
You know, the descriptions weren't anything exceptional, and the plot was simple with couple of twists to spice things up but I still enjoyed every seYou know, the descriptions weren't anything exceptional, and the plot was simple with couple of twists to spice things up but I still enjoyed every second. The dialogue was funny, sharp and interesting. All things combined made me feel like I was sucked into an old black and white film noir, where whiskey is served at all hours of the day and women are fatal. Even though I mentioned the simplicity of the descriptions there was something that made 1930s Los Angeles come alive....more
Wolfe writes engagingly and he has truly made his research. He doesn't reveal his theory about the murderer(s) until in the very end, forcing the readWolfe writes engagingly and he has truly made his research. He doesn't reveal his theory about the murderer(s) until in the very end, forcing the reader to think about the case and connect the clues. For that reason I'll try not to give away too much in the following.
I actually believe that the solution Wolfe provides is how things really happened. It all makes sense, pieces fit in the gaps. Even if it's not true, files that became public only recently give away pretty big clues, things that dirty cops and corrupt big shots had so adamantly wanted to hide. Mafia involvement was the biggest factor. I was pretty shocked to find out that Cary Grant and Gary Cooper among others were Bugsy Siegel's friends, at least until Hollywood realized he was a raving gangster.
Marilyn Monroe also talked to Elizabeth Short at one point, when she was asking about how to get into the right Hollywood crowd, and later Monroe was very disturbed by her murder. There was so much anecdotes and information about the case, varying from plausible (an interview with the possible murderer) to downright ridiculous (lesbian killer hoax). The cover-up probably lasted well until the 1980s when someone talked a bit too much (hint: a very movie-like scenario involving an apartment fire). Whatever the truth is, it's likely that the murderer(s) will never be punished for what they did....more
I saw the movie first and though I quite disliked it I came to the conclusion after reading the book that I preferred the visualised story. I hated thI saw the movie first and though I quite disliked it I came to the conclusion after reading the book that I preferred the visualised story. I hated the way it was written. Overwhelming detailing of the case wasn't saved by last part where things actually started to be interesting. Despite all this it was still better than the horribly generic contemporary crime fiction with barely no character development....more