Four classic black novel authors that should not be missed | Elementary

Gene Tierney and ‘Laura’ by Otto Preminger (1944).

The publishing market is experiencing a continuous reissue of classics that in the genre that concerns us also includes compilations, some unpublished, more elegant versions (Navona’s from The moonstone Willkie Collins’ classic, without going any further) and a commitment to authors who have unfairly gone unnoticed. Today we bring four women who have experienced mixed luck among Spanish readers, but who have never enjoyed the success they deserve. Two immense novels and two compilations of stories make up the selection. They can all be found in bookstores, so choose the one that catches you closest and if you can, go. In the meantime, come and read.

Laura, Vera Caspray (Alianza, translation by Pilar de Vicente). Laura, Laura, Laura. The fascination generated by a character created at the beginning of the forties of the last century and that gives twenty turns to many of the female figures of today’s fiction is inexhaustible. The plot is well known (who and why they killed Laura), so let’s focus on the virtues. Laura is dead, zero gut here, so we see her in the eyes of those who knew her: essentially the excruciating Waldo Lydecker (her godfather on his path of career and social advancement) and Mark McPherson, the rude and letter-wounded Scottish cop, made himself, hopelessly hooked on Laura’s figure. The conversation between the two at the beginning of the book is magnificent, a prelude to what awaits us in a book that skillfully mixes different genres and voices. When the speaker is Shelby, the man Laura loved, you don’t understand what you’ve seen in that run-down posh, that pretentious bum, and that only magnifies the character. There are a couple of things that cannot be counted and that if they access this fiction for the first time, if they have not read it yet or have not seen Otto Preminger’s extraordinary film, they will enjoy it to the fullest. Those who have, will now be outlining a smile. They know what I’m talking about. Good literature.

Gloria Grahame and Humphrey Bogart in 'A Lonely Place', by Nicolas Ray (1950).
Gloria Grahame and Humphrey Bogart in ‘A Lonely Place’, by Nicolas Ray (1950).

In a lonely place, Dorothy B. Hughes (Gatopardo, translation by Ramón from Spain). The taste with which this publisher selects the little jewels that it is recovering for the reader in Spanish is commendable. In this case, a capital classic. Los Angeles, late 1940s. Two young people with different aspirations in life meet again after having fought together in World War II. Brub is a cop, an orderly guy with an orderly life devoted to his wife, Sylvia, and to chasing evil. Dix is ​​a dissolute young man and he is evil. A boring guy who kills women and decides to get close to his friend for recreation. Written in 1947, in a glorious time of the crime novel, In a lonely place It is an approach to the criminal mind little seen until then, much more modern and complex than the 90% of the psychopaths that populate the genre today. But the book also has two exalted female characters and an ending that projects the novel 80 years ahead. The author married in 1932 and did not publish anything for eight years. He later claimed that family obligations robbed him of the peace of mind he needed to write. We may have missed one more classic along the way. Then, if you want, you can see the film, directed by Nicolas Ray and played by Humphrey Bogart and Gloria Grahame, there is nothing, but first read this classic. Essential.

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One or two stories

Do not sleep anymore, P.D. James (Siruela, translation by Raquel García). Six stories collected under the motto, the phrase rather, that terrified Macbeth, six evils, most of them told in the first person and with a scheme that always works: the narrator looks back to remember the story and, without anything rugged or necessarily violent but with turns that are always successful and fun for the reader, offering a solution. Mr. Millcroft’s Birthday, for example, is an excellent example of James’ ability to create characters that are very similar to us, that is, prepared for rancor and small evils. The girl who adored cemeteries is one of the few not written in the first person and has something disturbing, almost dirty, and one of the best endings. On A very desirable residence play with that of “be careful what you wish is not going to come true.” But the one that best summarizes all of James’s ability to finish a story with all the pieces in place is The murder of Santa Claus, in which he also uses those references to the genre and writers that he likes so much. Very successful selection, very funny texts and, if you have not read PD James, perhaps the best way to get closer to the British author.

A pinch of madness, Ruth Rendell (Less fourth editions, translation by Susana Carral). Sophie Hannah says in the foreword to this edition: “In Rendell’s universe, the weird is absolutely common. There is no We (good) and They (bad). In his fiction he does not tidy up people. He understands that most real people are weirder than most novels allow their protagonists to be. ” In addition to the novels that led him to sell more than 20 million copies worldwide, Rendell wrote seven books of short stories. Those that appear in this edition were never published in this way. In them you can see the control that this lady had over gender. Good proof of this is the story that gives the book its title, a first-person account that apparently follows a clear path. But the author has saved a surprise for the last line! and works! That is managing the springs. There is a lot of man killing, or trying, or outright failing, and a lot of irony about the writing profession and the genre that made her such a popular writer. And, as a gift, one last story about a family that knows that the world is over and they just wait for their time. It is not black, but in it Rendell once again shows his ability to generate unease.