Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Blondes Die Young -- Bill Peters (William P. McGivern)


The other day I commented on a novel by William P. McGivern, and Ed Gorman had this to say in the comments section: "Thanks for bringing McGivern to our attention. I became friendly with Dorothy B. Hughes the last five years of her life and we often talked about writers who had faded after their deaths. She considered McGivern one of the two or three best hardboiled writers of his generation. She always said that he was a serious writer, kind of a pulp Graham Greene. And I sure agree. There are at least eight or nine of his titles that would be in print in a just world and But Death Runs Faster is one of them. He did a post-war novel set in the jazz clubs of Chicago called Blondes Die Young---under the pen-name Bill Peters--and the historical element is fascinating. Because what he's describing is the pre-beat era that was already there--crash pads, cheap wine parties, poetry readings, heavy duty jazz and of course so much marijuana I got a contact high just reading it. He was a fine fine writer and Blondes could also easily have been a Gold Medal, too. His masterpiece was Odds Against Tomorrow, which is spiritually one of those most violent and nihlistic novels I've ever read until the very end."

After reading Ed's comment, I naturally had to check the shelves to see if I had a copy of Blondes Die Young. Sure enough, there it was, in a nice Popular Library pb edition. "Time On Her Hands -- Men On Her Mind." They don't write blurbs like that anymore. Naturally I had to read the book.

And, sure enough, Ed was absolutely right. This one could easily have been published by Gold Medal. It's boiled a lot harder than But Death Runs Faster. Lots of violence and brutality, and some of the reviews compare the book to those by Mickey Spillane. But the narrator, Bill Canalli, takes more punishment than even Mike Hammer. He gets in a lot more sack time, too, if you know what I mean and I think you do. One think I liked the book is the neat variation on Spillane's themes that McGivern works out here. I won't say anything else about that, but if you ever get a chance to read the book, you'll see what I mean. Check it out.

6 comments:

CR Dodson said...

Hi, Bill! This is too funny, I just found your blog! I'm Don & Sylvia Nelson's daughter! I believe you and I have met in Alvin at least once! Anyway, I'll link you to my blog, and hope you'll visit me sometime! Small world on the Internet!

Bill said...

What's your blog URL? You're Carolyn, right? I have the book you wrote about your grandmother.

Tribe said...

Thanks for the reference. McGivern is one of those guys who I've always heard mentioned in the same breath as the greats from the paperback era, and I've never had an opportunity to read. Your post was a reminder that I must. Time for an ebay search.

James Reasoner said...

That cover looked familiar, so I checked my shelves and sure enough, I have a copy of it, too. I even have a later edition with a different cover, which I'll probably post on my blog in a few days when I've had a chance to read the book. I had no idea that Bill Peters was really McGivern.

Cathy said...

Hey, Bill, sorry, I forgot you wouldn't have a link to me since we're on different blog-servers. You can find me at--
http://www.crdodson.bravejournal.com
You can also link to my main web site from there, too. Yes, I wrote the little novella, but it's Cathlynn, or better yet, Cathy! Still trying to break in to the bigger publishing world. Don't know if my folks told you, but my husband and I bought and are running a B&B in Fulton, MO. (Yes, the Churchill city!) You'll have to come visit sometime!

Bill said...

Well, I was close. I'll have to look for that book. I bought it at your signing in Alvin and read it a day or so later. So it's been awhile.