March 10, 2009

Cocktail Talk: Fright

Cornell Woolrich was one of the top crime writers of his time, though he isn’t as super well known as a couple fedora-wearing others (I supposed in-the-know crime buffs are hip to him, but hey, everyone isn’t in the know all the time)–his time being mainly the 1940s and 50s, though he had outlying books from the 1920s until the 1960s. He wrote under some assumed names, wrote literate (and pretty downbeat by and large) crime and noirish numbers, did some time in Hollywood and had movies made from his books and stories (the most cherished being the Hitchcock classic and generally kick-cinematic-ass Rear Window), and then lived the latter part of his life in a seedy hotel in NY next to or with his mother (who never read a word he wrote). I’m a fan. Not of the living in a seedy NY hotel (though maybe that’s okay, too), but of all the books of his I’ve read. Which leads to the following quote, which is from a book called Fright. Originally published in 1950 (with a dandy Hard Case reprint in 2007) under the name George Hopley, it’s not my favorite book by Mr. Woolrich, but the following quote rings right for today, a frigid day in March, a Tuesday (the gloomiest day of the week), a day that would be best spent musing about life while drinking a host of Manhattans.


Sometimes they were like pinwheels, revolving around a single colored center. The bright red cherry of a Manhattan. He must have been looking straight down into his own glass when that happened. He was on Manhattans.


— Cornell Woolrich, Fright

August 26, 2008

Cocktail Talk: Murder With Pictures

Not the best pocket book ever, but still worth a read (and the cover is sweet, with the tag line “the girl stepped over the edge of the tub”), George Harmon Coxe’s Murder with Pictures is a “Kent Murdock Mystery.” Kent’s a photographer, who solves a bit of crime on the side. You could do that in the 1930s. Here are two quotes from the book, both of which are worth repeating.

“A hot bath, a cocktail, and a change of clothes–these made a difference.”

“She contemplated the dress a moment, then stepped over to the bedside table and picked up the cocktail shaker, a severe cylinder on chromium and black enamel. She shook it five or six times, poured dark red liquid into the single silver cocktail cup. Manhattan’s were her favorite. But she had to be careful.”

— George Harmon Coxe, Murder with Pictures

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