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Shoot the Piano Player Paperback – October 3, 1990


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Editorial Reviews

From the Inside Flap

Once upon a time Eddie played conert piano to reverent audiences at Carnegie Hall. Now he bangs out honky-tonk for drunks in a dive in Philadelphia. But then two people walk into Eddie's life--the first promising Eddie a future, the other dragging him back into a treacherous past.

Shoot the Piano Player is a bittersweet and nerve-racking exploration of different kinds of loyalty: the kind a man owes his family, no matter how bad that family is; the kind a man owes a woman; and, ultimately, the loyalty he owes himself. The result is a moody thriller that, like the best hard-boiled fiction, carries a moral depth charge.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 168 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; Reissue edition (October 3, 1990)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679732543
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679732549
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.4 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #195,933 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

20 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Westley VINE VOICE on March 13, 2004
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
"Shoot the Piano Player" is quintessential American crime noir. The protagonist is Eddie, a piano player in a sleazy Philadelphia bar. He comes from a family of criminals but managed to escape that life. At one time, he was a promising classic pianist, but then he fell from grace. Now, Eddie's brother Turley literally stumbles back into his life, bringing chaos and uncertainty. At the same time, Eddie begins to tentatively woo a waitress at work. The plot is full of twists, although it's a bit of a mess at times.
The novel was originally released in 1956 as "Down There," which appropriately reflects the dilemma Eddie faces. Specifically, the book focuses heavily on fate, which seems to be dictating that Eddie return to "down there" from whence he came. The book's name was changed subsequently to reflect the classic 1960 movie it inspired - "Shoot the Piano Player," directed by French auteur Francois Truffaut. As with Truffaut's movie, the book's plot is secondary to character and ambience. Instead, Goodis reflects on small moments, such as Eddie's exhilaration at standing close to the waitress in an alley as they hide from gangsters. Indeed, the characters are well-delineated, and I found myself truly caring about them.
If you like Raymond Chadler, Jim Thomson or similar crime noir writers, then you'll probably enjoy this novel. Goodis is a skillful pulp writer. Unfortunately, most of his books have gone out of print - make sure you get this one while it's still available.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Untouchable on August 11, 2003
Format: Paperback
Dark and melancholic? Yes. Oozing with despair? Yes. But also a wonderfully plotted and characterised story that poignantly displays a man who has done the best he could with the lot he was given.
Eddie is a bar-room piano player at Harriet's Hut where he has quietly and unobtrusively played for 3 years. One night his criminal brother staggers into the bar, desperate for Eddie's help. He is being chased by a couple of gangster-types and unwillingly, Eddie is drawn into the chase.
From that point on, we begin to learn all about this quiet and unassuming man. We soon realise that there is a lot more to him than is first realised and, having endeared him to us, we are snapped back to the present and the trouble that is visited upon him be his brother.
There's plenty to like about the story's characters too: from the tough, overweight broad who owns the bar, to her common-law husband, an ex-wrestler who works as the bar's bouncer, and the femme fatale, a brazen waitress who plays a wonderful counterpoint to the introspective Eddie.
There really is nothing left to say than to highly recommend this book as a special example of noir fiction. It's certainly well worth reading.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By frumiousb VINE VOICE on May 13, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
For years I have avoided reading Shoot the Piano Player because the film by Truffaut is one of my favorites. It hardly seemed fair to the book to try and read it when I liked the film so very much.

It was a mistake to have waited.

Shoot the Piano Player is a subtle and hard-hitting novel that goes beyond many of the expectations of a Noir thriller. The writing is subtle and moody, with moments of aggression and connection that flash like heat lightning.

Eddie does not need any trouble in his life. By the time trouble catches up to him at Harriet's Hut he is already a beaten man. Disengaged and detached, a single act of involvement carries him over the line and back into life. This is a dark and poor Philadelphia where the past catches up to a person and where nothing and nobody are what they seem.

Recommended for fans of Noir fiction and films. Truffaut fans should not worry about being disappointed. Even if you aren't yet a noir fan, this is an excellent book for anybody with a taste for smart and well-written literature.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Shadow Woman on August 10, 2000
Format: Paperback
This was my first Goodis book, and it absolutely blew me away. If this is any indicator of what to expect from the man, I'm in love. In this noir novel, things get messed up, then get even messier, and messier still, until it's just one big mess and Eddie has got to keep hiding and runnning and fighting for survival. And the unbearable nature of it all wakes Eddie up out of the complacency of his life. That's what this book is about. Not to mention that Goodis' writing is like reading hard-boiled poetry. The words flow together beautifully and have an air of mystery and profundity about them. The last two pages alone will stay with me forever as a fond memory. Like a previous reveiwer, _ Of Human Bondage_ is my favourite book-- and still is, but now it shares 1st place with _Shoot The Piano Player_.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Michael G. VINE VOICE on July 3, 2004
Format: Paperback
Eddie is the name of the piano player of the book's title. For the princely sum of thirty dollars a week, Eddie provides background music in a rundown dive. He figures that if he has nothing, nothing can be taken away from him. And if he stays in the background, like so much wallpaper, no one will ever bother him.
Eddie's strategy for living works quite well. That is until an untimely visit from his hoodlum brother triggers a cascade of events that threaten his very life.
Shoot the Piano Player is a short allegorical novel that is dark and unapologetically downbeat. Deceptively simple in its construction, there's a lot of truth about life contained within its pages. If you take the time to read this book, you will learn more about what makes human beings tick than you ever would by reading any ten psychology texts put together. An enthusiastic 5 stars.
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