- Paperback: 272 pages
- Publisher: University Press of Florida (October 7, 2012)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0813044065
- ISBN-13: 978-0813044064
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 8.9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,242,840 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Redheads Die Quickly and Other Stories Paperback – October 7, 2012
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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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"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)
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.