Cornell Woolrich Omnibus Paperback – Feb 19 1998
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From Library Journal
This is a rich compilation of several of Woolrich's noir masterpieces from the 1940s, including Rear Window, I Married a Dead man, and Waltz into Darkness. A gangbusters collection. (Classic Returns, LJ 2/15/98)
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Top Customer Reviews
"Waltz into Darkness" was the reason for my purchase of the book. I had seen the movie "Original Sin" and was rather taken with the plot, if not the movie itself. I discovered the "Cornell Woolrich Omnibus" and thought, well, why not?
Let me just say that I am so glad that I bought this book. I am an avid fan of James Ellroy, but other than that noir fiction was not known to me. Cornell Woolrich's writing was consistently well written, amazingly well-timed, and delivered in a manner that can only be compared with the likes of F.Scott Fitzgerald. (By the way, it has been said that Woolrich considered Fitzgerald an idol.)
Let's start at the beginning. The five short stories are so diverse. Everyone knows "Rear Window" because of it's Hitchcock fame. Very good, but let's not shun the others just because they are not well known. The best would HAVE to be "Three O'Clock." It has the heart racing and pulse quicking before one can get into the first few pages. The other stories are good.. I was also impressed with "Post-Mortem" and "Change of Murder." "Momentum" was the only one where I was put off by the ending.
The first novel was "I Married a Dead Man." Wow.. fabulous. It leaves you wondering what exactly happened, which normally bothers me beyond belief. However, this was done so well.. and IT COULD HAVE ACTUALLY HAPPENED AT THE TIME... which makes it all the more intriguing.Read more ›
Now let me introduce you to the ONLY thing that is in print from this remarkable man, who wrote over twenty novels and a few hundred short stories... The Omnibus, which contains I MARRIED A DEAD MAN and WALTZ INTO DARKNESS, two of the last novels of his "main" period and both written under the psuedonym William Irish, and five short stories collected under the Title "Rear Window". I MARRIED A DEAD MAN is one of Woolrich's best: existentially terrifying, incredibly depressing, and wholly dependant on bizarre coincindences that you must just accept as being part of his cruel and mocking universe. WALTZ is a strange choice to include, since it uncharacteriscally takes place in a period setting (1880s Louisiana) and depends less on crime and suspense than his other works, but it is nonetheless captivating -- his dark view of life and love still sits at the helm, but this novel isn't representative of his work the way you would expect for inclusion in an "Omnibus".
As for the shorts, they are uniformally a strong group. "Change of Muder" and "Post-Mortem" are solid if not incredible, but they do show you what some of his typical magazine work was like. "Rear Window" (which was first published as "It Had To Be Murder") is still a great story, even if you've seen the movie a few hundred times. Woolrich keeps the action tense and clautrophobic they way no one else can.Read more ›
Oddly enough, for a "Woolrich Omnibus", two novels that were originally published as by William Irish have been selected, and, even then, two of his lesser novels under that pseudonym. Don't get me wrong - the two novels are good, but they are not among his best. The 5 short stories in the "Rear Window" section are all top-notch, however.
The most unfortunate thing about this collection is that all three sections, "I Married a Dead Man", "Waltz Into Darkness", and "Rear Window and other stories", were all available separately until recently, while other, more deserving novels and short story collections have been out-of-print for many years, and hundreds of Woolrich's short stories lie uncollected in old pulp magazines. Why not revive some of these rather than trying to sell the most recently available stories in a different format?
"I Married A Dead Man" is a story of a young, pregnant, penniless woman who is thrown out on the street by her child's father. When she is involved in a train accident that kills a rich young man and his pregnant wife, she is mistaken for the man's wife by his family and taken in by them. Her past, however, threatens to destroy both her new-found happiness and the people that she has come to care for.
"Waltz Into Darkness" is the story of a lonely man who tries to find companionship by proposing marriage to a pen-pal. When she arrives, however, she is beautiful and does not at all resemble her picture.Read more ›