Sunday, December 4, 2011

Cornell Woolrich

I had that trapped feeling, like some sort of a poor insect that you've put inside an overturned glass, and it tries to climb up the sides, and it can't, and it can't, and it can't.

From his Blues of a Lifetime: The Autobiography of Cornell Woolrich.

Woolrich's first novels were reminiscent of F. Scott Fitzgerald's, but he soon turned to writing pulp fiction, often using a pseudonym.  His crime books -- which include The Bride Wore Black, The Black Curtain, Black Alibi, The Black Angel, The Black Path of Fear, and Rendezvous in Black -- are weirder than those of Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler, and his other contemporaries.  (Think Edgar Allen Poe if he had been born a century later.)

Woolrich's novels and short stories have been made into dozens of film noir movies.  The famous Hitchcock movie, Rear Window, is based on a Woolrich short story, and Francois Truffaut made two movies (The Bride Wore Black  and Mississippi Mermaid) based on Woolrich novels.  

After losing a leg -- he failed to get treatment for an infection that resulted from his wearing a too-tight shoe, and his leg had to be amputated  -- Woolrich lived the last years of his life in a New York City hotel as a recluse.  He became an alcoholic, and weighed only 89 pounds when he died in 1968.  Most of his books are out of print. 

Cornell Woolrich

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