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calendar   Monday - January 24, 2011

RIP, Joe Gores … chance are you never heard of this guy … well, read this American story

Not that I need to go looking for obits of people both famous and not so.
Can only do so many and so I land on the ones with a bit of a story or military derring do from the past.

The Joe Gores story is interesting as to his background.  He must have been a ‘wild and crazy guy.’ Imagine taking a girl on your first date to an auto repossession. Of a car owned by a guy named, Jimmy “The Weasel” Fratianno. 

I’m almost tempted to think I might have run this obit for that alone. But no.

My wife got the Telegraph before I did today and went through all of it as she always does.  But not often does she draw my attention to an obit.  Well actually, it wasn’t the obit itself but a very small bit within it.  I thought perhaps she misquoted or misunderstood something cos it seemed so dumb, so unreasonable and so bizarre.
But then … No. Not at all. Once you realize that after all, this bit of moonbattyness took place in LaLa Land, among arty types and most likely of left wing sympathies, well.  Do I have to say more?

Take a look.

Joe Gores (RIP)

Joe Gores, the crime-writer who died on January 12 aged 79, was best-known as the heir to the legacy of Dashiell Hammett.

Like Hammett, Gores initially worked as a private detective before becoming a full-time writer. His 1975 novel, Hammett, made into a film by Wim Wenders, draws on his own experiences in its portrayal of the struggling pulp writer solving a crime involving an old friend from his detective agency days. Gores would return to Hammett’s own work with his 2009 novel Spade And Archer, a sort of “prequel” to The Maltese Falcon, written with the permission of Hammett’s daughter, which captures with remarkable fidelity the tone of the master’s own stories.

Gores was adept at almost all forms of detective fiction. He served a long apprenticeship, once admitting to papering his bathroom walls with publishers’ rejection slips, before selling his first short story to Manhunt, one of the last of the so-called “pulp” magazines, in 1957.

It was at this time he began 12 years with a San Francisco detective firm specialising in skip tracing (finding missing persons) and repossession. He was hired only after succeeding in a dummy assignment – spending two days tracking down a suspect long-since dead. Eventually, that experience would be turned into a short story, as would many of his investigations. He once compared writers and detectives, saying each “digs around in people’s garbage”.

His own writing breakthrough came when Time Of Predators (1969) won the best first-novel Edgar award from the Mystery Writers of America, and he won best short story at the same time. His next book, Dead Skip (1972) would be the first of seven about “Daniel Kearney Associates”, a detective agency based on the one where he worked. After a second “DKA” novel, he wrote Interface (1974), a classic of crime fiction, whose relentlessly cruel hard-boiled tone is inverted by a brilliant final twist.

Born Joseph Nicholas Gores at Rochester, Minnesota, on Christmas Day 1931, Gores originally wanted to be a comic strip artist. After taking a degree in English Literature from Notre Dame University in 1953, he moved to San Francisco, supporting himself as a labourer, logger, motel clerk, and lorry driver while enrolled at Stanford University.

Initially he was denied a master’s degree in Creative Writing because his stories “read as if they were written to be sold”. Then he was refused a master’s in Literature because the novels covered in his thesis (by Hammett and Raymond Chandler), were “not literature”. In 1961 he finally received an MA, writing his thesis on the literature of the South Seas. By then, however, his best writing was to be found in the field reports he composed for his detective agency, which were so good that they “made clients want to pay their fees”.

After the success of Hammett, Gores also wrote screenplays for television detective shows, among them Remington Steele, Magnum P.I., TJ Hooker, BL Stryker, and Mike Hammer. He won his third Edgar for a script for Kojak, making him only the third writer to take the award in three separate categories. One of the other two writers thus honoured was his friend Donald Westlake; Gores and Westlake inserted each other’s series characters into books, and Gores’s DKA novel 32 Cadillacs (1992) contained a chapter shared with Westlake’s Drowned Hopes, but told from different points of view. 32 Cadillacs and Come Morning (1986) were both nominated for best-novel Edgars.

Gores is survived by his second wife Dori, whom he took with him on their first date to repossess a Cadillac owned by the mobster Jimmy “The Weasel” Fratianno.

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Posted by peiper   United Kingdom  on 01/24/2011 at 10:26 AM   
Filed Under: • OBITITUARIES •  
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Oh, and here's some kind of visitor flag counter thingy. Hey, all the cool blogs have one, so I should too. The Visitors Online thingy up at the top doesn't count anything, but it looks neat. It had better, since I paid actual money for it.
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