Monday, November 07, 2016

In Sunlight or In Shadow: Stories Inspired by the Paintings of Edward Hopper - Lawrence Block, ed.

I have to admit that before I read this anthology edited by Lawrence Block, I wasn’t that familiar with the work of Edward Hopper, other than the painting “Nighthawks”. I came away quite impressed with Hopper’s work showcased here, as well as many of the stories inspired by those paintings.

Seventeen authors contributed stories for this volume. As they’re listed on the cover: Stephen King, Joyce Carol Oates, Robert Olen Butler, Michael Connelly, Megan Abbott, Craig Ferguson, Nicholas Christopher, Jill D. Block, Joe R. Lansdale, Justin Scott, Kris Nelscott, Warren Moore, Jonathan Santlofer, Jeffery Deaver, Lee Child, Gail Levin, and Lawrence Block. Naturally, I enjoyed some stories more than others. My favorites are Megan Abbott’s period yarn “Girlie Show”, Michael Connelly’s “Nighthawks” (a Harry Bosch story), Craig Ferguson’s oddball “Taking Care of Business” (inspired by the painting “South Truro Church”), Jonathan Santlofer’s tricky “Night Windows”, Lawrence Block’s “Autumn at the Automat”, which reminded me of some of his early crime digest stories, and my pick for the best story in the book, Joe R. Lansdale’s “The Projectionist” (inspired by the painting “New York Movie”).

A few words about those last two: I’m old enough to remember automats, although there weren’t many still around by the time I was a kid. I recall buying sandwiches and pieces of pie in them, however, so I felt a personal connection with Block’s story. There’s even more of a personal connection with Lansdale’s story, because I spent a great deal of time between 1970 and 1975 in the Worth, Palace, and Hollywood Theaters in downtown Fort Worth, and by then they were the sort of shabby movie palaces in which Joe’s yarn is set. This one really kicked up a lot of nostalgia in my mind.

All in all, IN SUNLIGHT OR IN SHADOW is an excellent anthology whether you’re familiar with Edward Hopper’s work or not. If you are, you’ll probably find it a veritable feast. If you aren’t (like me), it’s a very entertaining education. Either way, it gets a high recommendation from me.

9 comments:

Keith West said...

I am eagerly waiting for my copy to arrive.

Jeffrey Meyerson said...

I finished it this week and agree totally with the review, even to the stories I liked the best.

When we were kids, every time my mother would take us into "the city" (Manhattan), my brother and I would beg to eat at the Automat. When I was first married, there was a short-lived revival as they opened one near Grand Central on 42 Street.

As Bill Crider would say, I miss the old days.

pattinase (abbott) said...

I didn't know it was out. I preordered it so I guess it will come sometime soon.

pattinase (abbott) said...

PS on my tenth birthday, we had my party at a Horn and Hardarts Automat in Philly. It was at my request. So much fun to watch the arms replace the dishes as people bought them.

Walker Martin said...

I'll have to get this book. I like Hopper's work a lot and he even did some pulp illustrations in his early career. A couple issues of ADVENTURE have all the illustrations by Hopper.

Richard said...

Great concept for an anthology! Thanks for highlighting it, James!

Ron Clinton said...

I've been looking forward to this one, so good to hear it's been worth the wait. Between this and THE HIGHWAY KIND (being shipped to me as we speak), I look to have some great short-story reading ahead of me.

Steve Oerkfitz said...

Loved this book. My favorite story is the Joe Lansdale.

TracyK said...

Thanks for this review. I was wavering on this. I have long been a fan of Hopper but am new to enjoying short stories, so wasn't sure. I have now pre-ordered it.