Friday, December 13, 2013

Stark House Charles Williams duo + the great Ray Banks

  • Nothing in Her Way / River Girl
  • 978-1-933586-63-2
  • Nothing in Her Way presents a convoluted story of two con artists, while River Girl is a classic backwoods thriller about a man who falls for the wrong woman. Both of these novels were originally published in the early 1950's by Gold Medal Books. Author Max Allan Collins calls Williams the "the best kept secret in noir fiction." Our edition includes a new introduction by Rick Ollerman and is scheduled for December 2013.

Ed here: If you've never read Charles Williams 

then you've never read American noir's most important neglected writer. 


Ed here: You can find the entire article by Ray Banks at the very cool Mysterious Press e books site.

Five Noir Lessons from Charles Williams by Ray Banks

But while the other heroes of the paperback, like Jim Thompson or David Goodis, have been reappraised, republished and canonised, Williams remains sorely underrated and—until now—largely out of print. It's a pity, because out of all of the 50s noir novelists, Charles Williams should be a major influence on modern noir, a subgenre which can sometimes feel choked with cinematic cliché and sophomore nihilism. 
Williams has plenty to teach the aspiring noir novelist, and even more to offer those of us who may feel that noir has reached the limits of self-parody. And so here, for your delectation and amazement, are five noir lessons to be learned from the work of Charles Williams.

The femme is more important than the fatale.

You'd think that I wouldn't have to mention something like this in the second decade of the 21st Century, but here we are and so it goes: Charles Williams is one of the few noir novelists of any generation and either gender to write complex, engaging female characters. Indeed, there's an argument to be made that Williams was more interested in his women than his men, that his men are actually largely defined by their relationships with the women, and that the women are the ones who end up triumphant because they possess a self-awareness, intelligence and crippled humanity that the men can only begin to know in their final, doomed moments.


pattinase (abbott) said...

I have one of his books but have never read it. Time to pick it up.

Dana King said...

Thanks for this. Banks has been a favorite of mine since I discovered him a few years ago, so anything he has to say on the topic interests me. I particularly like his comments about a good sense of humor in noir. The best noir, no matter how dark, has a sense that a cosmic joke has been played on the unsuspecting schmuck who takes the fall.