Book Review: Black Wings Has My Angel

Black Wings Has My Angel
Chaze, Elliott
New York Review Books, 2016 ed of 1953 original

Basically a pulp fiction novella with a bit more depth, this is a good period piece of mid-1950’s America. The story revolves around an escaped convict’s obsession for carrying out the perfect heist which he and one of the other prisoners developed while in prison. His partner was killed in the escape, but after a fling with a hotel prostitute in a backwater town leads to an unlikely affair he finds in her a perfect and willing accomplice. The plan takes time to develop, and as they travel the country in search of the perfect place the tone shifts from pulp crime to road novel to social observations of time and place.

 

Eventually, however, the book shifts back away from descriptions of how neighbors water their lawns or the dangers of being on the backside of office politics in a pre-OSHA factory, and the long planned heist takes place, but despite the apparent success of their plan the couple find themselves caught in the uncertainty of their relationship with one another and the various worlds they have created around themselves. The book ends as any good 1950’s story must – but it leaves a reader pondering how it would have ended had it been written in a later period.

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