For our Tough Guys & Dangerous Dames: A Discussion of Hard Boiled Fiction Panel on Saturday, August 31st, at 2PM, we have two literary stalwarts from behind the pine curtain in Nacogdoches, Texas driving in to join us. Tim Bryant owns The Bosslight, the towns’ independent bookstore and is one of those writers more people need to know about, with a great private eye series featuring postwar Fort Worth detective Alvin “Dutch” Curridge and a western one with John Wilkie Liquorish, a very dubious frontier hero. Joe R. Lansdale is a legend in practically every genre outside Harlequin romance, best known for his Hap and Leonard series that took the hard-boiled crime genre in several weird and wonderful directions. Here are their list of five favorite hard boiled novels.
1. Black Wings Has My Angel by Elliott Chaze
This is a hell of a ride, one where you never know what’s coming around the next corner. But it has the South in it, including my beloved New Orleans, a beautiful dream/nightmare of a woman along for the trip, and a protagonist named Tim who’s living with hellhounds nipping at his heels and he’s not looking back.
2. The Nothing Man by Jim Thompson
The Nothing Man isn’t usually considered one of Thompson’s best, but I’ll stick up for it. It’s as dark and violent and alcohol-fueled as you would expect, but it will also make you giggle and squirm in spite of yourself. All of Thompson’s protagonists are missing something important, but morality tale of male impotence makes it all too literal.
3. Cockfighter by Charles Willeford
Willeford has that unflinching eye, putting the reader ringside on the cockfghting circuit in the dirty South. You might see a lot of things you don’t really want to see, but Willeford paints it in such a stark and beautiful way, you can’t look away.
Joe’s Picks (descriptions by Scott):
Black Wings Has My Angel by Elliot Chaze
The book that pops up most often on our panelist’s lists. When people use the term fever dream, this is a fine example. All the elements of a hard-boiled noir, a cad narrator, femme fatale, and armored car heist.
Murder is Not an Odd Job by Ralph Dennis
Dennis’ Hardman series featuring unlicensed Atlanta PI Jim Hardman, assisted by his former pro football back up, Hump, served as one of the influences on his Hap and Leonard series.
Be sure to join us to hear Tim and Joe talk more noir when they stop by the store on August 31st at 2PM for a panel celebrating twenty years of Stark House Press.