OT: Buena Vista Social Club – Chan Chan

“Chan Chan” is a 1987 son composition by Cuban trovador Compay Segundo. In the late 1990s, it became the signature track of the Buena Vista Social Club project. The lyrics of the song revolve around two central characters called Juanica and Chan Chan. (From Wikipedia)

Review: The Asphalt Jungle by W. R. Burnett

Esta entrada es bilingüe, para ver la versión en castellano desplazarse hacia abajo

Rosetta Books, 2014. Format: Kindle edition. File Size: 560 KB. Print Length: 224 pages. First published by New York Knopf in1949. ASIN: B003XRELXE. ISBN: 978-0795325229.

The Asphalt Jungle is my contribution to #1949book for this May Crimes of the Century, hosted by Rich Westwood at Past Offences.

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The Asphalt Jungle is the first book in W. R. Burnett’s urban trilogy, together with Little Men, Big World (1951) and Vanity Row (1952). The story is perhaps better known for its adaptation to the big screen in 1950 directed by John Huston and starring Sterling Hayden, Jean Hagen, Sam Jaffe, Louis Calhern, James Whitmore, and, in a minor but key role, Marilyn Monroe.

By the way, The Asphalt Jungle, one of the first motion pictures to realistically show the criminal world from the criminal’s viewpoint, is widely regarded by film critics as one of John Huston’s best. (Source: The American Film Institute).

The Asphalt Jungle is a gripping tale of the planning and execution of a jewellery store heist in a dark and corrupt Midwestern metropolis. Set amid a seedy urban wasteland of crooks, killers and con-artists, the various members of the gang are steadily undone by personal obsessions, double-crossing and cruel fate. (Source: Goodreads).

William Riley Burnett (1899-1981) was a master of fiction, a skilful writer, contemporary to James M. Cain, Raymond Chandler, and Dashiell Hammett. Burnett authored some 36 novels and either wrote alone or in collaboration 60 screenplays. His novels Little Caesar, High Sierra, The Asphalt Jungle represent a rich vein of thought in contemporary American literature and culture. After he began his career as a writer, Burnett moved to Chicago in the late 1920s at the height of Al Capone’s power and sway over the city. It was this atmosphere, Chicago in the ’20s and notably the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre (Burnett was one of the first people on the scene) that inspired Burnett’s first great success Little Caesar, which was made into a film by the same name starring Edward G. Robinson. After this initial success, Burnett had a strong, close working relationship with Hollywood as both a novelist and screenwriter, and eventually found a champion in writer/director John Huston. Burnett collaborated with Huston on the adaptation of High Sierra in 1941 in which Humphrey Bogart redefined himself in the role of Roy Earle. The two men’s paths crossed again when Huston filmed The Asphalt Jungle in 1950. The Mystery Writers of America awarded Burnett their highest honour–the prestigious title of Grand Master–at the 1980 Edgar Awards. (Source: RosettaBooks)

I particularly believe that The Asphalt Jungle is worth its reading, even if you don’t like heists’ novels. The story offers us a superb portrait of characters. Most, if not all of them, are losers that face their fate with the fatalism of a classic hero. In essence, this is a story that is very far away from the American dream, where we can find a great dose of realism in pure state. I acknowledge that some reviewers consider the story is outdated however, in my view, it reflects accurately the times in which was written.

My rating: A (I loved it)

Rosetta Books

William Ripley Burnett at Detnovel.com

W.R. BURNETT – American Realist, by Martin Spellman

La jungla de asfalto de W. R. Burnett

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La jungla de asfalto es el primer libro de la trilogía urbana de W. R. Burnett, junto con Little Men, Big World (1951) y Vanity Row (1952). La historia es quizás más conocida por su adaptación a la gran pantalla en 1950 dirigida por John Huston y protagonizada por Sterling Hayden, Jean Hagen, Sam Jaffe, Louis Calhern, James Whitmore, y, en un papel secundario pero clave, Marilyn Monroe.

Por cierto, La jungla de asfalto, una de las primeras películas en mostrar con realismo el mundo del delito desde el punto de vista del delincuente, está generalmente considerada por los críticos cinematográficos como una de las mejores de John Huston. (Fuente: The American Film Institute).

La jungla de asfalto es una apasionante narración sobre la planificación y ejecución del robo de una joyería en una oscura y corrupta metrópolis del medio oeste. La acción se desarrolla en medio de un sórdido páramo urbano de ladrones, asesinos y estafadores, los diferentes miembros de la banda se destrozan continuamente por sus obsesiones personales, por sus traiciones y por un destino cruel. (Fuente: Goodreads).

William Riley Burnett (1899-1981) fue un maestro de la narrativa y un hábil escritor, contemporáneo de James M. Cain, Raymond Chandler y Dashiell Hammett. Burnett fue autor de unas 36 novelas y escribió, bien en solitario o en colaboración, 60 guiones. Sus novelas Little Caesar, High Sierra, La jungla de asfalto representan un rico filón de pensamiento en la literatura y en la cultura contemporánea norteamericana. Después de comenzar su carrera como escritor, Burnett se mudó a Chicago a finales del 1920 en el apogeo del poder y del dominio de Al Capone sobre la ciudad. Fue esta atmósfera, Chicago años 20 y sobre todo la Masacre del día de San Valentín (Burnett fue una de las primeras personas en acudir al lugar de los hechos) que inspiraron el primer gran éxito de Burnett Little Caesar, que fue llevada al cine con el mismo nombre protagonizada por Edward G. Robinson. Después de este éxito inicial, Burnett tuvo una fuerte y estrecha relación de trabajo con Hollywood tanto como novelista como guionista, y finalmente encontró un benefactor en el escritor y director John Huston. Burnett colaboró ​​con Huston en la adaptación de High Sierra en 1941 en la que Humphrey Bogart se redefinió en el papel de Roy Earle. Sus caminos se volvieron a cruzar otra vez cuando Huston filmó La jungla de asfalto en 1950. La Asociación Norteamericana de Escritores de Misterio (Mystery Writers of America) otorgó a Burnett su galardón más pretigioso, el título de Gran Maestro, en los Premios Edgar de 1980. (Fuente: RosettaBooks)

Particularmente creo que merece la pena leer La jungla de asfalto, incluso si no le gustan las novelas de atracos. La historia nos ofrece un magnífico retrato de personajes. La mayoría, si no todos ellos, son perdedores que se enfrentan a su destino con el fatalismo de un héroe clásico. En esencia, se trata de una historia que está muy lejos del sueño americano, donde podemos encontrar una gran dosis de realismo en estado puro. Reconozco que algunos críticos consideran que la historia está anticuada sin embargo, en mi opinión, refleja con precisión la época en que fue escrita.

Mi valoración: A (Me encantó)

RBA Serie Negra

Manuel Molina Spanish Singer and Guitarist – In Memoriam

Manuel, 50% of the musical duo Lole and Manuel, who helped spread flamenco in the mid 70s has died today, aged 67.

Their groundbreaking album Nuevo Dia fused traditional Spanish flamenco with Arabic rhythms and styles. The music is recognized for the emotive, yet childlike voice of Lole Montoya and the operatic, flashy guitar of Manuel. Their 1975 track, “Tu Mirá” (“your look” or “your gaze”, from ‘mirada’, deformation due to elided d and double ‘a’ fusion), which features one of Montoya’s most emotive vocal performances, accompanied by a large choir and an epic organ (in addition to Manuel’s guitar), is included on the soundtrack for Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill: Volume 2. (Source: Wikipedia).

OT: Discover Joey Alexander

Don’t call 11-year-old Joey Alexander a jazz prodigy: ‘I just like to be as myself’

And The Petrona Award 2015, Went To

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The blurb reads: A luxury yacht arrives in Reykjavik harbour with nobody on board. What has happened to the crew, and to the family who were on board when it left Lisbon? Thora Gudmundsdottir is hired by the young father’s parents to investigate, and is soon drawn deeper into the mystery. What should she make of the rumours saying that the vessel was cursed, especially given that when she boards the yacht she thinks she sees one of the missing twins? Where is Karitas, the glamorous young wife of the yacht’s former owner? And whose is the body that has washed up further along the shore? The most chilling novel yet from Yrsa Sigurdardottír, an international bestseller at the height of her powers. (Source: Hodder & Stoughton)

My review is here.

Although it was not my preferred choice, I must congratulate Yrsa for having won between a strong set of contenders.