Sunday, April 28, 2013

The Friends of Eddie Coyle; Clark Howard

From  10 Essential Anti-heroes   
Eddie Coyle (Robert Mitchum) in Peter Yates' "The Friends of Eddie Coyle" (1973)
What would happen if you took one of those Robert Mitchum characters from a 1940s film noir or crime pic, aged him thirty years, and took away his cool? That's Eddie Coyle. A brilliant, minor-key riff on (rather than outright deconstruction of) the Mitchum persona of his earlier years, the Coyle featured in the gritty, unglamorised Boston underworld of Peter Yates's terrific "The Friends of Eddie Coyle" is so small-time as to be practically minute, and so long in the game as to be practically respectable. Aging and wearying of his crooked career the same way a guy who's worked in the post office for 40 years might, Coyle does the single least noble thing he can do: in order to stay out of prison he resolves to turn snitch. But in true antihero form, he can't even do that right -- bothersome conscience aside, he ends up fingering guys who've already been caught and whose names are no use to the police, and ends up ultimately being set up to take the fall by a more cunning rat than himself. And the fall, when it comes, is so anticlimactic as to be maybe the perfect antiheroic end: passed out drunk, his pants soiled from a dropped beer that looks like a urine stain, Eddie is shot in the head in a moving car, before it and his body are abandoned in the parking lot of a bowling alley. It's one of Mitchum's greatest performances, because for a guy whose stock in trade was the laconic, morally ambiguous guy with a palpable air of danger, with Eddie Coyle he manages to turn down the volume on that bristling charisma, and show us someone not just broken, but desperate.

Clark Collection: I cribbed this entry from Bill Crider's fine blog.  Marty Greenberg and I (I believe) edited a Year's Best from 1986 until this year when Marty passed. Clark Howard was in virtually if not literally every collection. He's one of the two or three finest short stories writers working today.This is mandatory reading.

 Clark Howard Collected Short Stories - 1960s eBook: Clark Howard: Kindle Store: Clark Howard has written 16 novels, and six books of non-fiction. 

However, Howard didn't start out as a novelist. He started out as a short story writer, and he remains a short story writer. He has won numerous awards for his stories, including the prestigious Edgar Alan Poe Award, five Ellery Queen Readers Award, the Derringer Award. His stories have also been nominated for the Anthony, Shamus and Spur Awards. This book - Clark Howard Collected Stories - 1960s is the first of several planned volumes collecting the bulk of Clark Howard's mystery short stories. 

This first volume features more than 140,000 words of Clark Howard short stories - stories originally published during the 1960s.


Jeff Rutherford said...


Thanks for plugging the Clark Howard short story collection that I published.

I'll be publishing a print version too in the next couple of months, and I'll be sending you a book when it's printed.

There will be more volumes of the short story collection forthcoming - we're collecting the stories decade by decade.

J.P. Giuliotti said...

Here's a fan tribute to the George V. Higgins novel turned Peter Yates film: "The Friends of Eddie Coyle" Enjoy!

Charlieopera said...

Ah, beautiful. Wonderful.