James Sallis's (Drive) seminal biographical essays on crime fiction pioneers Jim Thompson, David Goodis, and Chester Himes restored to print and joined by a handpicked collection of essays, reviews, and introductory writings on noir fiction.
At the time of its original publication by Gryphon Books in 1993, Difficult Lives was a pioneering work of literary investigation. Sallis's subjects of Himes, Goodis, and Thompson were as enigmatic as they were out-of-print, and literary scholarship on the subject of their lives and works scant. As the title of the collection indicates, the three men led difficult lives, and although they forever changed the history of crime writing, they all passed in relative isolation.
The literary detective work Sallis did then has been built upon since but rarely with the same poetry and authorial sympathy. Despite there now existing several works of academic and popular biography on each writer Sallis's novella-length biographies retain the sense of the newly uncovered.
Those three pieces, "Jim Thompson: Dime-store Dosteoevski," "David Goodis: Life in Black and White," and "Chester Himes: America's Black Heartland" are prefigured by a new introduction by the author as well as the original introduction, "Portable Worlds: The First Paperback Novel." Following Difficult Lives is collection of reviews, essays and introductions, selected by Sallis, covering a wide range of crime fiction's most legendary authors and books: Derek Raymond, Jean-Patrick Manchette, Boris Vian, Patricia Highsmith, James Lee Burke, George Pelecanos, Paco Taibo, Shirley Jackson, and more.