“Prose both scabrous and poetic.” – Publishers Weekly. “Proust meets Chandler over a pint of Guinness.” – Spectator. “A sheer pleasure.” – Tana French. “Among the most memorable books of the year, of any genre.” – Sunday Times. “A hardboiled delight.” – Guardian. “Imagine Donald Westlake and Richard Stark collaborating on a screwball noir.” – Kirkus Reviews. “A cross between Raymond Chandler and Flann O’Brien.” – John Banville. “The effortless cool of Elmore Leonard at his peak.” – Ray Banks. “A fine writer at the top of his game.” – Lee Child.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Here’s One We Made Earlier: Fast One by Paul Cain

Those print-taking mommas over at The Rap Sheet were kind enough to ask us to contribute to their mammoth You’re Still The One series, in which crime-writerly types were invited to nominate the writer or novel they felt has been most unjustly overlooked, criminally forgotten or underappreciated over the years. We picked Paul Cain’s Fast One, to wit:
"The bigger they come, the faster they fall. Ray Chandler proposed that a writer should have a man come through the door with a gun already in his hand should things ever threaten to calm down, and perhaps that’s why he called Fast One ‘ultra hard-boiled’. With a body count of Cecil B. DeMille proportions, Paul Cain’s only novel (he also published a collection of short stories, Seven Slayers) arrived in 1933, after a serialisation in Black Mask. The joins show, much in the same way as gaps appear between explosions in a fireworks display. The terse, virtually monosyllabic prose seems hammered into the paper (Last line: “Then, after a little while, life went away from him.”) as gunsel Gerry Kells wreaks havoc in the criminal underworld of Depression-era LA, his hypnotic paranoia eventually justified as various kingpins conspire to rub him out. Harder than Chandler, bleaker than Hammett, sparer than James Cain, Fast One is an incendiary device in book form."
The big question: can anyone tell us if a movie was ever made from Fast One? Ta.

2 comments:

Peter said...

That was an interesting choice for the Rap Sheet list. Here's why: You write noir with humor, and I found a surprising streak of fun in Seven Slayers, which is the only Cain I read. I was especially surprised to find that humor in an author Bill Pronzini called the hardest boiled of the Black Mask writers.
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Detectives Beyond Borders
"Because Murder Is More Fun Away From Home"
http://detectivesbeyondborders.blogspot.com/

Declan Burke said...

Hi Peter - I think it's fairer to say that I try to write noir with humour ... but when I'm reading I'll read anything that's well-written, and I'm particularly fond of the hardboiled stuff that's so fast-paced there's no time for jokes and gags ... and Fast One fits the bill in that respect probably better than any of the early hardboiled novels. Cheers, Dec