Story A Day: “Black” by Paul Cain

May 18, 2013

shortstorymonth320x320I picked up the Centipede Press edition of Paul Cain’s works, The Complete Slayers, after reading Michael Dirda’s review in the Washington Post. The stories, most of which appeared in Black Mask in the 1930s, are spare and uncompromising—more minimalist than either Hammett or Hemingway ( contemporaries and obvious points of comparison) and bleaker than either as well. “Black,” the first story in the collection, reminds me in some ways of Hammett’s Red Harvest: a lone man comes into town and pits two rival groups against one another. Both terse and tense—a little too much of the former for my taste, ultimately, but certainly with enough of the later quality to make up for it. — Art Taylor

One comment

  1. My copy of the book was called “Seven Slayers,” a Black Lizard book. I read ‘”Black” last year, so it’s not real fresh in my mind. I felt the pace was so fast, that I couldn’t follow the “Red Harvest” style twists and turns. I lost track of plot and motivation. So much seems to happen, I’m surprised how short the story actually is.

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