Antiheroes, Dancers, Bridges, L.A. Stories | Classic Returns

The Classic Returns column is back with intercultural essays, a full roster of femmes and hommes fatales, an art critic’s black comedy, and a dancing de Mille’s memoir with an excellent new foreword. Add these new reissues and rereleases to your dance card!

bridgecubaBridges to Cuba/Puentes a Cuba: Cuban and Cuban-American Artists, Writers, and Scholars Explore Identity, Nationality, and Homeland. Univ. of Michigan. 2015. 456p. ed. by Ruth Behar. illus. ISBN 9780472036639. $35. SOC sci
In the 1990s, after struggling to obtain a visa to visit her homeland, anthropologist Behar (Univ. of Michigan; Translated Woman; The Vulnerable Observer) began to formulate a cross-cultural “bridge to Cuba” via an anthology. The result was a collection of the works of writers, poets, and artists from Cuba and the Cuban diaspora chronicling their experiences on both sides of the “bridge.” This 20th-anniversary edition of the formerly out-of-print volume was released one year after President Barack Obama announced the reestablishment of diplomatic relations between the United States and Cuba following a fraught and antagonistic half-century. In addition to a new introduction from Behar, this volume includes many illustrations and artworks, scholarly and personal essays, poems, and short fiction.

Chaze.BlackWingsChaze, Elliott. Black Wings Has My Angel. NYRB Classics. 2016. 224p. ISBN 9781590179161. pap. $12.95; ebk. ISBN 9781590179178. F
Originally published by noted purveyor of hard-boiled titles Gold Medal in 1954, this “neglected” noir masterpiece has been compared to the prose of Dashiell Hammett. Former Black Lizard Books editor Barry Gifford writes in his admiring introduction to this reissue that Chaze, a newspaperman and author of several more “literary” books, was a disciple of Ernest Hemingway. This reviewer read the book and found it better than either writer’s works (here’s my “What We’re Reading” blurb about Black Wings…). Gifford calls it the author’s best book, saying “nothing else Chaze wrote came anywhere close to what he had accomplished on all levels in Black Wings.”  This one is for all the noir/pulp/hard-boiled reissue lovers out there, a true dark gem.

demilledancepiperde Mille, Agnes. Dance to the Piper. NYRB. 2015. 368p. photos. index. ISBN 9781590179086. pap. $17.95. ebk. ISBN 9781590179093. DANCE
Dancer and choreographer de Mille (1905–93) wrote this memoir in 1951. Perhaps most well known for her “cowboy ballet,” Rodeo, performed to the music of Aaron Copland, and choreography for Broadway musicals (Oklahoma!; CarouselBrigadoon; Gentlemen Prefer Blondes; The Girl in Pink Tights), de Mille was born into a creative family (father William was a playwright; uncle was blockbuster movie director Cecil). She pursued dancing despite active discouragement by her father. When her parents divorced, however, Agnes’s mother, Anna, devoted herself to her daughter’s career wholeheartedly. This telling of how “a spoiled egocentric wealthy girl, who learned with difficulty to become a worker, to set and meet standards…” features a lively introduction from New Yorker dance and book critic Joan Acocella. One thing Acocella mentions is that de Mille was a better writer than choreographer. Others have said she was the best dancer who wrote and the best writer who danced.

GaryIndiana.ResentmentIndiana, Gary. Resentment: A Comedy. Semiotext(e): MIT. 2015. 392p. ISBN 9781584351726. pap. $15.95. F
The acerbic and “brilliant” (so says Christian Lorenzen of the London Review of Books) art critic and author Indiana published this novel in 1997. Here’s what LJ reviewer Lawrence Rungren had to say about the first book in Indiana’s crime trilogy (followed by 1999’s Three Month Fever: The Andrew Cunanan Story and 2003’s Depraved Indifference):

This cinematically structured black comedy focuses on a society gone mad. Seth is an embittered gay journalist on assignment in Los Angeles to cover a sensational murder trial reminiscent of that of the Menendez brothers. Like a Robert Altman film, the scenes shift between the tabloid fodder of the nationally televised trial and the ever-increasing difficulties and disappointments in the lives of Seth and his circle of friends. At times corrosively satiric and at others scatalogical and over the top, this novel reads like a cross between Nathanael West and William S. Burroughs. Though journalist and novelist Indiana’s latest is at times uneven and occasionally rambling, there is an undeniable power in its mordant moral vision.

Hard Case Crime

The publisher of new, reissued, and never-released pulp-styled crime novels has some tough-guy titles for early 2016.

QuarryCut   QuarryDeal

Collins, Max Allan. Quarry’s Cut. Feb. 2016. ISBN 9781783298891. ebk. ISBN 9781783298907.
Collins, Max Allan. Quarry’s Deal. 2016. ISBN 9781783298877. ebk. ISBN 9781783298884.
Collins, Max Allan. Quarry’s List. 2015. ISBN 9781783298853. ebk. ISBN 9781783298846.
Collins, Max Allan. Quarry’s Vote. Mar. 2016. ISBN 9781783298914. ebk. ISBN 9781783298921.
ea. vol: Hard Case Crime: Titan. 224p. pap. 9.95. F

As the Cinemax television show based on Collins’s long-running series ramps up, Hard Case is reissuing the five original books starring former marine sniper and hit man Quarry. (Quarry, Hard Case’s rerelease of the series starter first published in 1976 as The Broker, came out in 2015.) The retitled novels by the Road to Perdition author (and Mickey Spillane literary executor) each feature a McGinnis cover with a “branded” look. Quarry’s Cut, originally published in 1977 as The Slasher, is the fourth book in the series, and it’s set in the adult film business. Quarry’s Deal (originally The Dealer, released in 1976, No. 3 in the series) pits the protagonist against a female “hit man.” Quarry’s List (No. 2, originally titled The Broker’s Wife, 1976) has Quarry scrambling to eliminate a murderous rival and dealing with the sexy wife of his errant boss (the Broker). Quarry’s Vote, aka Primary Target (No. 5, 1987) takes place in the cutthroat world of presidential politics.

McBain.CutMeMcBain, Ed. Cut Me In. Hard Case Crime: Titan. 2016. 240p. ISBN 9781783294459. pap. $9.95; ebk. ISBN 9781783293629. F
This title is everything Hard Case excels at: unavailable in print for nearly 60 years, it’s McBain’s mixture of “sexy crime story” and satirical takedown of the midcentury Manhattan business world. The protagonist is a New York literary agent whose partner is murdered in his office; McBain worked at a shady literary agency early in his career. The book also features a novelette starring Matt Cordell, the detective from The Gutter and the Grave, first released in 1958 and reissued by Hard Case in 2005. A new cover painting by legendary painter Robert McGinnis ties up the package perfectly.

 

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Liz French About Liz French

Library Journal Senior Editor Liz French edits nonfiction and women's fiction reviews at LJ and also compiles the "What We're Reading" and "Classic Returns" columns for LJ online. She's inordinately interested in what you're reading as well. Email: efrench@mediasourceinc.com, Twitter: @lizefrench