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Redheads Die Quickly and Other Stories Paperback – October 7, 2012


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: University Press of Florida (October 7, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0813044065
  • ISBN-13: 978-0813044064
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 5.9 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #123,293 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Book Description

Gil Brewer (1922–1983), a second-generation noir writer, followed in the footsteps of Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett, and James M. Cain. He spent most of his life in the Tampa Bay area, where he also set most of his fiction. Like his characters, he was a victim of his own weaknesses, dying as a result of the alcoholism that plagued his whole adult life.

Brewer published prolifically under various pseudonyms and in a variety of niche genres including mystery, romance, and pornography. Over the course of his career, he published more than 100 short stories and 50 novels, including A Taste for Sin, Satan Is a Woman, and The Girl from Hateville. He is known for his everyday characters—often underdogs, frequently downtrodden, and desperate to get ahead in life—who ultimately succumb to their own weaknesses and desires.

Brewer revolutionized the availability of reading-as-entertainment for the American people by helping to exploit a new market: the paperback original. Many of his novels, including the bestselling 13 French Street, have recently been reissued for a new audience. However, Redheads Die Quickly and Other Stories is the first collection of his short fiction.

Because his work was published in a large number of pulp magazines, and because he regularly didn’t publish stories under his own name, Brewer’s fans—and fans of hard-boiled noir fiction in general—have often been frustrated in their efforts to find the work of this mid-century American crime writer. David Rachels has sifted through the Brewer papers at the University of Wyoming, thumbed thousands of publications, and tracked down rare pulp magazines on eBay, to create the first-ever authoritative list of Brewer’s short stories, with the best featured in a single volume.

From the Back Cover

“This is a hell of a collection. Twenty-five hard-boiled gems, with each story wilder than the next.”—Dave Zeltserman, bestselling author of Small Crimes

 

“Immensely enjoyable. Will be welcomed by anyone interested in the development of American noir, and indeed people who just like a gripping crime story.”—Lee Horsley, author of The Noir Thriller

 

“Brewer marinated crime and lust together in the humid Florida heat to produce stories of sexual hunger, obsession, and predation. David Rachels has done us a service by collecting Brewer’s neglected short fiction. His introduction traces Brewer’s life and art with style and insight, and the stories continue to delight.”—Leonard Cassuto, author of Hard-Boiled Sentimentality: The Secret History of American Crime Stories
 

“Gil Brewer’s short stories, like his novels, are visceral, exciting, and sometimes very bleak, indeed. He takes familiar elements and turns them into tales that are both brutal and shocking.”—Bill Crider, author of The Wild Hog Murders

 

Gil Brewer (1922–1983) built his reputation on the gritty foundations laid by Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett, and James M. Cain. His everyday characters were often underdogs, frequently downtrodden, and desperate to get ahead in life, yet all too often they succumbed to their own weaknesses and desires.

Taking advantage of the explosive growth of pulp magazines and novels, Brewer wrote prolifically, in genres ranging from mystery to pornography, under a number of pseudonyms. But after publishing more than 100 short stories and 50 novels, including A Taste for Sin, Satan Is a Woman, and 13 French Street—which sold more than a million copies but was deemed “unfilmable” because of its sexual content—Brewer hit a wall. As though possessed by one of his characters, he faded into an alcoholic and financial slump, dying alone in St. Petersburg.

Although many of his novels have been reissued, this is the first collection of his stories to be made available. It will grab you by the throat and won’t let go.

 

David Rachels, professor of English at Virginia Military Institute, has edited three volumes, most recently Mark Twain’s Civil War.


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Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5 stars
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Characters are at once typical and archetypical.
CleoB
Among noir fiction writers, I call Gil Brewer my sentimental favorite.
George Tuttle
I'd also recommend A Devil for O'Shaunessy as well.
Jeff

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By David Rachels on September 7, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
In writing short stories for the crime digests of the 1950s, Gil Brewer had greater artistic freedom than when he wrote novels for the paperback houses, so these stories are even more outrageous and unpredictable than the Gil Brewer novels that you (hopefully) already know and love. This book collects the following 25 gems from the 1950s, the glory decade of Gil Brewer's career:

"With This Gun--" (Detective Tales, March 1951)
"It's Always Too Late" (Detective Fiction, April 1951)
"Moonshine" (Manhunt, March 1955)
"My Lady Is a Tramp" (Pursuit, May 1955)
"Red Twilight" (Hunted, October 1955)
"Don't Do That" (Hunted, December 1955)
"Die, Darling, Die" (Justice, January 1956)
"The Black Suitcase" (Hunted, February 1956)
"Shot" (Manhunt, February 1956)
"The Gesture" (The Saint Detective Magazine, March 1956)
"Home" (Accused, March 1956)
"Home-Again Blues" (Pursuit, March 1956)
"Mow the Green Grass" (Pursuit, March 1956)
"Come Across" (Manhunt, April 1956)
"Cut Bait" (Pursuit, May 1956)
"Matinee" (Manhunt, October 1956)
"The Axe Is Ready" (Trapped, December 1956)
"On a Sunday Afternoon" (Manhunt, January 1957)
"Prowler!" (Manhunt, May 1957)
"Bothered" (Manhunt, July 1957)
"Smelling Like a Rose" (Mr., July 1957)
"Death of a Prowler" (Trapped, April 1958)
"Getaway Money" (Guilty, November 1958)
"Redheads Die Quickly" (Mystery Tales, April 1959)
"Harlot House" (Mystery Tales, August 1959)
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By CleoB on December 12, 2012
Format: Paperback
If you're ever having depressive summer weekend with a bottle of bourbon and no left shoe, I recommend this collection be your companion. Or, as is more likely, I recommend this collection for anyone taking an ill-planned family vacation to Florida. Of for reading the john while pondering the terrible wreckage of your career and/or personal life and/or lunch.

The stories are pure pulp pleasure, peopled by the usual compliment of dangerous blondes, languid brunettes, and heavily armed men whose mothers probably didn't hug them enough. Weeks after reading the individual stories fuse a bit in memory. This is more of a testament to their adherence to genre and the demands Brewer's career placed on his writing than to any particular shortcomings in construction. Settings are gloriously concrete. Characters are at once typical and archetypical. Some stories suffer a bit from weak plots, driven more by a nearly pornographic impulse to violence than narratives' more frequent engines. Others are gloriously twisted in ways better suited to O'Connor or O. Henry than the mass market. Brewer's prose is as wasted as his urban and tropical landscapes: occasionally verging on such wit that one can imagine him an altogether different career in literature. Brewer never achieves the noir mastery of Chandler and Cain, but his nearness to it both tantalizes and frustrates.

In short, the collection is a desultory, dirty way to pass an evening but is clever enough you won't feel too ashamed in the morning.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By George Tuttle on December 24, 2012
Format: Paperback
Among noir fiction writers, I call Gil Brewer my sentimental favorite. I use the word sentimental because I can't quite put my finger on why Brewer is one of the best, ever. That is more a comment on my ability to articulate. But David Rachels' anthology is the ultimate celebration of Gil Brewer, a writer whose life and fiction is the embodiment of noir.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Jeff VINE VOICE on October 18, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I'd read Gil Brewer's longer works before, but never been exposed to a long collection of short stories from the 1950's. Although the cover is lurid, and the title provocative, these are really well done stories. The short story format forces an economy of words and plots. Brewer clearly shows himself to be a master of the format.

All of these stories are about men and women in the hot Gulf sun, trying to live up to what 1950's morally expects of them when in fact their desires and emotions tug them forcefully in another direction all together. Brewer uses the oppressive heat to melt away inhibitions and the result is almost always mayhem. In some cases, the protagonist finds himself in a very different position than he expected when he decides to let his urges run wild. In other cases, tragic endings are shared by all.

I don't think there were more than one or two clunkers in the whole batch of twenty-five stories. Several of them display plotting skilled enough to to be worthy of a Rod Serling Twilight Zone episode.

If you're new to Gil Brewer, this is a fine place to start. I'd also recommend A Devil for O'Shaunessy as well.

Highly recommended.
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