The Little Red Mustang

images-1I don’t understand.

For some time now I have been overloaded on my Twitter feed with boring, repetitious encomiums to the recent novel by Jake Tapper, The Hellfire Club. If only for shits and grins, I fully intended to read the novel but if you followed the official and unofficial press you’d be convinced the Tapper’s work was the height of literary accomplishments akin to Tolstoy or Mann.

Tapper has reconstructed the Washington, D. C. scene of the mid-fifties and, as popular novels must therefore do, is full of references to events, sites, and objects that are quintessential 1950s. The right music, the correct fashions, the mixed drinks that would be served, the favored breakfast cereals, and events right out of the newspapers of the day. It provides a nice, easy nostalgic flow the lulls the reader into just the right state for the jarring events suggested as the novel commenced.

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Noir Novels

imgres.jpgThere’s one thing (amongst many) that truly shivers my timbers and that is when I am forced to admit that I never heard of an author … at least a serious author that doesn’t have Fabio on the cover of his book. But the Library of America series knew enough to publish a collection of five of the works of David Goodis: David Goodis: Five Noir Novels of the 1940s and 50s.

Now I am not an inveterate reader of mystery novels (like my mother was: she would read three a day) but I have read authors such as Georges Simenon, Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler, even John D. MacDonald, still, I never heard of David Goodis. I was even familiar with the Bogart movie based on Goodis’s novel and I’m certain that my daughter, who teaches Cinema Noir at the university, is well aware of Goodis, but not me.

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Heavy Petting

If you aren’heavyPettingt aware of Snag Films, give this interesting internet channel a peek. It is also available on the television if you have an internet connection such as a Roku.

The film I just watched is titled Heavy Petting and gives a good overview of teenage sexuality in the 1950s (or at least something like what was represented in the movies and what several celebrity-types remember).

But the real magic that comes in this movie is the fascinating dual-interview with William S. Burroughs and Alan Ginsberg. They are very much missed. But to add even more value to this uneven documentary film they have included the slightly wilder responses of the late, great Abbie Hoffman.

Just for those images it’s worth watching this film more than once.

The Tragic Irony of the 1950s

YatesRichard Yates has one of his primary characters in Revolutionary Road offer this fantasy view of life:

… I still had this idea that there was a whole world of marvelous golden people somewhere, as far ahead of me as the seniors at Rye when I was in sixth grade; people who knew everything instinctively, who made their lives work out the way they wanted without trying, who never had to make the best of a bad job because it never occurred to them to do anything less that perfectly the first time. Sort of heroic super-people, all of them beautiful and witty and calm and kind, and I always imagined that when I did find them I’d suddenly know that I belonged among them, that I was one of them, that I’d been meant to be one of them all along, and everything in the meantime had been a mistake; and they’d know it too. I’d be like the ugly duckling among the swans. — April Wheeler

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