Sees hard-boiled crime fiction in relation to a changing literary marketplace and as an arena for conflicts about citizenship, class culture, and democracy during the New Deal.
Acknowledgments vii Uncivil Society: Hard-Boiled Crime Fiction and the Idea of a Democratic Culture 1 1. Constructing Race Williams: The Klan and the Making of Hard-Boiled Crime Fiction 39 2. "Mystic Rigmarole": Dashiell Hammett and the Realist Critique of Liberalism 87 3. The Pulp Writer as Vanishing American: Raymond Chandler's Decentralist Imagination 140 4. Letdown Artists: Paperback Noir and the Procedural Republic 198 5. Tangibles: Chester Himes and the Slow Death of New Deal Populism 251 Conclusion: Beyond Us, Yet Ourselves 306 Notes 309 Bibliography 349 Index 365
Sean McCann is Assistant Professor of English at Wesleyan University.
"The secret history of American crime fiction doubles back to the 1920s and 1930s American left. The noir novelists of Sean McCann's shrewd and disturbing Gumshoe America devised a fierce, experimental pop-Modernism, an intransigent anti-popular strain within popular culture. McCann writes passionately, argumentatively, authoritatively, alert to both accomplishment and loss. Probably no prior study of American crime fiction is more entangled in the claims and contradictions of community, race, class, and politics."-Robert Polito, author of Savage Art: A Biography of Jim Thompson "Sean McCann's Gumshoe America is a major new interpretation of a pivotal period in American social and cultural history-and also a pleasure to read. McCann blends sophisticated analysis of national politics, an understanding of cultural and political theory, detailed archival research in the concrete details of pulp literary production, and subtle critical analysis of literary texts."-Richard Slotkin, author of Gunfighter Nation "McCann brilliantly shows how depictions of detectives and deadbeats were at one and the same time struggles over the terms of New Deal liberalism/postwar Keynesianism and inquiries into the cultural office of popular narrative. Gumshoe America ought to earn McCann a visible and enduring place as a premier scholar of popular American writing and an exponent of original ideas about literary value, U.S. cultural politics, and the ruses of representation in a variety of American cultural locations."-Eric Lott, author of Love and Theft: Blackface Minstrelsy and the American Working Class