November 28, 2017

Cocktail Talk: It’s Always Four O’clock

Image result for it's always four o'clock burnettI love discovering a writer I haven’t read, who I like (or at least enough to try and track down more of), and who has a fair amount of books. The world seems so wide open! And it happened recently, as I picked up a reprint that contained two books by W.R. Burnett. Best-known for The Asphalt Jungle and High Sierra (as you can tell by that twosome, he was heavily involved with the cinematic arts at one point), Burnett wrote bunches of novels, stories, screenplays, and songs (the latter not so regular with novelists), mostly in the noir vein – well, not sure about the songs – though with some outliers and pushing the boundaries of what we’d think of the genre. Including his book It’s Always Four O’clock (which is paired with the much-less-satifying boxing book Iron Man here), which is about struggling, or up-and-coming, jazz musicians in LA. It’s impeccably written, and the characters are interesting, real, and the story pretty emotional in many ways. Loved it. And now am excited to track down more Burnett. Not a lot of Cocktail Talk-ing, but this description of a night when too many were had is sweet:

So I told him, falling all over myself like a drunken and guilty husband trying to explain to the angry little woman how it happened to be three o’clock in the morning and how he happened to be so loaded with booze he couldn’t have hit the ceiling with his hat.

–W.R. Burnett, It’s Always Four O’clock

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