Tuesday, October 22, 2013

From Centipede Press Beautiful Collectors editions of William Lindsay Gresham

In the decades since its publication, William Lindsay Gresham’s novel Nightmare Alley (1946) has gained recognition as a cornerstone of postwar noir fiction. But the remainder of the author’s work — thematically diverse and voluminous in scale — has gone virtually unexplored.
       Whether writing for the detective pulps of the 1940s, the sci-fi digests of the 1950s, or the lowbrow men’s magazines of the early 1960s, Gresham relentlessly indulged his fascination with crime, psychology, magic, and spiritism, investing each of these almost-forgotten pieces with his dark wit and fatalistic sense of doom. This is the first collection of William Lindsay Gresham’s ever to be published.
       This edition unearths 24 of Gresham’s most fascinating short stories and essays, most of which have never been reprinted since their original publication, and provides, at long last, a comprehensive view of one of pulp fiction's most enigmatic figures.
       A biographical essay by Bret Wood charts Gresham’s tumultuous life and career (including his troubled marriage to Joy Davidman), revealing the events that led to his alcoholism, his struggle for sobriety, and ultimately his suicide in 1962.

Few hardboiled novels of the 1940s have earned as avid a following as William Lindsay Gresham’s Nightmare Alley. An immediate sensation when it appeared in 1946, the book spawned a classic film starring Tyrone Power and Joan Blondell, sowed the seeds for the literary subgenre of carnival noir, and introduced to the pop-culture vocabulary the term geek.
       Nightmare Alley follows the exploits of Stanton Carlisle, a ruthless hustler who learns the tricks of the carny trade and uses them to establish himself as a spiritual guru, preying on the wealthy and the weak. Carlisle’s determined rise to power and inevitable plunge into depravity is more than great drama, it is an evisceration of the postwar American dream, told by a writer whose hard-luck life was just as compelling as his character’s.
       Collected in this volume is a sampling of Gresham’s other carnival-themed work: essays offering first-hand observations of life beneath the canvas tops. These essays have been long unavailable.
       An essay by Bret Wood, William Lindsay Gresham: The Disillusionist, explores the novelist’s fascination with carnivals, magic, and spiritualism; and Gresham’s lifelong crusade to extract the carefully-guarded secrets that lay hidden within.
       This handsome edition features striking dustjacket and interior art by David Ho, sumptuous cloth binding with blind stamping and onlay images, Tarot card images in the interior, photographs, article illustrations, original magazine art, movie posters, and much more. 
       Nightmare Alley 
is one of the most highly regarded crime novels ever published. This edition is a fitting testament to an American classic. You will want this superb book for your shelf.

1 comment:

Walker Martin said...

Ed, it looks like our posts on Gresham came out the same day. For my discussion of Grindshow see http://mysteryfile.com/blog/?p=23665