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Comment: Publisher: Library of America
Date of Publication: 1997
Binding: hardcover
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Crime Novels: American Noir of the 1950s: The Killer Inside Me / The Talented Mr. Ripley / Pick-up / Down There / The Real Cool Killers (Library of America) (Vol 2) Hardcover – September 1, 1997

ISBN-13: 978-1883011499 ISBN-10: 1883011493

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Crime Novels: American Noir of the 1950s: The Killer Inside Me / The Talented Mr. Ripley / Pick-up / Down There / The Real Cool Killers (Library of America) (Vol 2) + Crime Novels: American Noir of the 1930s and 40s: The Postman Always Rings Twice / They Shoot Horses, Don't They? / Thieves Like Us / The Big Clock / ... a Dead Man (Library of America) (Vol 1)
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 892 pages
  • Publisher: Library of America (September 1, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1883011493
  • ISBN-13: 978-1883011499
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 1.2 x 8.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #143,881 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

The best American crime novels deserve their place in the pantheon of American literature, but they hold special interest for cinema enthusiasts, who can both compare them to the movies they became and can roll imaginary films of the stories in their minds. Crime Novels: American Noir of the 1950s is the second of Library of America's two-volume anthology of underground U.S. fiction. The first anthology featured works from the 1930s and '40s that had been made into classic films noir. This volume focuses on fiction written after the crime genre had acquired conventions that younger writers toyed with and sometimes broke. The movies made from such stories were equally radical.

Patricia Highsmith's The Talented Mr. Ripley is the source for René Clément's bristling Purple Noon, a movie that features Alain Delon's quintessential performance. David Goodis's Down There inspired François Truffaut's neo-noir masterpiece Shoot the Piano Player. Jim Thompson, the brilliant author who scripted The Killing and Paths of Glory for Stanley Kubrick, wrote several novels that have been turned into movies, including The Grifters and The Getaway. He is represented here by one of his most uncompromising works, The Killer Inside Me, which was filmed by Burt Kennedy in 1976. Charles Willeford's Pick-Up and Chester Himes's The Real Cool Killers have not yet been made into movies, but the blistering prose and nihilistic worlds of these authors, and of all the writers represented in this volume, is astonishingly cinematic. This lovely hardcover edition contains biographical, textual, and explanatory notes.

From Library Journal

The Library of America gave a tremendous boost to the reputation of hard-boiled detective fiction with the inclusion of Raymond Chandler among its illustrious ranks (Classic Returns, LJ 9/15/95). This new two-volume set is another giant step in the direction of legitimacy for the pulp mystery genre. This duo collect 11 of the best crime novels in which the criminal rather than the sleuth is the central character. Included here are such gems as James M. Cain's The Postman Always Rings Twice, Cornell Woolrich's I Married a Dead Man, Jim Thompson's The Killer Inside Me, Patricia Highsmith's The Talented Mr. Ripley, and Chester Himes's The Real Cool Killers. These tales of murder and mayhem belong in all fiction collections.
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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I look forward to much pleasant reading from the group.
Richard J. Sloan
I usually don't like genre fiction, but this book is a great collection of "Noir" novels.
KS
Can only buy individual books in paperback so the hardcover binding is nice.
"leper2000"

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

56 of 59 people found the following review helpful By Jeffrey Leach HALL OF FAME on January 14, 2002
Format: Hardcover
This book is the second volume in the Library of America set on American crime noir. I enjoyed the first volume so much that I decided to read the second one during Christmas break. Once again, the LOA has done a nice job of collecting a fine series of stories. These stories were written during the 1950's and 1960's. The book is nice to look at too; it's covered in red cloth with a cloth bookmark.
The first story is from the demented mind of Jim Thompson. This story, called The Killer Inside Me, is much better than The Grifters, a book by Thompson that I read some time ago. The Grifters seemed to be pretty one-dimensional with respect to its characters. This story is the exact opposite. A deputy sheriff in a Texas city has a terrible secret. He plays dumb on the outside, but inside he is a cunning sociopath. A long simmering resentment leads to a terrible revenge. Bodies quickly stack up as a result. This seems to be the story that Thompson is best known for and it's no surprise why. This is a dark, twisted tale with a grim ending.
Patricia Highsmith wrote a whole series of stories concerning Tom Ripley. The one included here is The Talented Mr. Ripley, probably better known due to the recent film with Matt Damon. This tale isn't as noir as I would have liked, but it still has enough twists and turns to keep anybody in suspense. Ripley is a low class conniver who ingratiates himself into a wealthy family who wants him to go to Italy and bring back their son. Ripley sees the potential for bucks and meets up with the kid and his lady friend. Of course, things take a turn for the worse and the bodies start stacking up. This story was probably my least favorite out of the entire collection.
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful By "leper2000" on December 6, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Excellent compilation of crime novels from the 50's. The authors don't just follow the formula they exploit it. Can only buy individual books in paperback so the hardcover binding is nice. If you have the books in paperback already get for the pretty package. I did. Includes arguably the quintessential Jim Thompson novel, a chilling first person narrative of a psychopathic cop, The Killer Inside Me, The Talented Mr. Ripley which is great but not as good as the sequels Ripley Under Ground and Ripley's Game, Pick up, a story narrated by a depressed, cynical loser who's given up on life and decides to take the woman he picks up with him. You'll never guess the great twist at the end as well The Real Cool Killers and Down There which was made into Truffaut's Shoot the Piano player. Sure, the authors' literary devices and cheap tricks might rub the literary critic in you the wrong way but I guarantee you won't be able to put it down. Don't think twice- get it.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Jim McKenna on July 7, 2000
Format: Hardcover
This is a fine collection of crime novels in a durable, easy to read format. It starts off great with "The Killer Inside Me", the all time best trip through a killer's mind. The selections by Highsmith and Goodis, while not as intense as "Killer", are just as good in their own quieter ways. The only novel I would have left out is "Pickup"; while I like Willeford I think this is one of his more leaden performances. I also have a quibble with the volume's title, as the word "noir" has been beaten to death and doesn't tell us much about most of these books. "The Talented Mr. Ripley" owes more to Henry James than to Raymond Chandler, and "Killer" doesn't feature any dark city streets. Quibbles aside, however, the book is well worth buying.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Takipsilim on November 3, 2005
Format: Hardcover
"Crime Novels: American Noir of the 1950's" is the second and last volume of the hardboiled anthology published by the Library of America starting with the volume devoted to the genre in the 30's and 40's. This follow-up continues the saga of run-down characters hardened by experience and tough luck. The familiar cast of roguish males, femme fatales, and temperamental and violent detectives set the stage for a diverse and entertaining ride into the depths of the underworld.

"The Killer Inside Me" - Jim Thompson's most popular work is a memorable tale of a Texas law enforcer with a sinister past whose dark and psychotic nature is cunningly veiled behind a genial facade that barely contains "the sickness" which the main character has successfully concealed. A sudden turn of events unleashes the beast inside leading to a tragic odyssey of disillusion, violence, and murder. Pioneering in it's time for revealing the inner mind of the serial killer, the bracing prose and chilling character development makes this work one of the best in the genre.

"The Talented Mr. Ripley" - Tom Ripley is a con artist successfully making ends meet through one of the most reprehensible professions in New York City. A drifter and social outcast, one night in a bar he comes across a parent of an old acquaintance he barely recalls and is asked to do a favor. When he consents, his true nature unfolds in this story of murder, sexuality, and identity. Made into film in 1999 starring Matt Damon in the leading role, this cosmopolitan travelogue with a Decadent touch in the end introduced the world to one of the most oddly sympathetic and diabolical characters in Literature.
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