America noir: underground writers and filmmakers of the postwar era
An examination of how the subterranean pulp genres of crime novels, B-movies, & science fiction helped express the underlying aspects of confusion & alienation during the period of postwar confidence & prosperity. The works of Jim Thompson, Chester Himes, Rod Serling & the Twilight Zone, Patricia Highsmith, & Roger Corman, along with others are closely examined.
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This book can be best regarded as an examination of some the precursors of the counter-culture of the Sixties, as Cochran considers how the new found respectability of modernism (dulling its ability to provide a critique) and the suppression of dissent during the Fifties created the demand for new ways of venting unease and anger regarding the consensus culture of the time. This meant that the world of pulp fiction, b-movies, and series television became the new stages on which to display the fears of the wider society, and Cochran considers how exemplars such as Ray Bradbury, Sam Fuller, and Rod Sterling (among others) exploited these previously derided mediums to remind people of the hollow and often downright evil aspects of American society. The problem is that this mode of critique, which Cochran suggests ultimately led to the post-modern outlook, has argueably also lost its edge; leaving would-be social critics short of weaponry. To put it another way the apostles of underground culture who revived irony, doubt, and the grotesque have merely become simply another cultural icon fit to be shattered. Sadly, one doesn't get prophets on schedule. If there is a particular element where Cochran is lacking, it's that his prose doesn't have much in the way of zing compared to the artists he admires; like I should talk.
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Within the Shell of the Old
of Charles Willeford
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