Willeford, Charles. Pick-Up. Crime Novels: American Noir of the 1950s. New York: Library of America, 1999.

Harry Jordan, 32, is a down-and-out alcoholic working as a counter man in a diner when he meets 33 year old Helen Meredith. There is an instant attraction. While Harry doesn’t relish the idea of being a drunk, he can spot one a mile away, and Helen is just his type. They soon strike up a pitiful relationship. Both are out of work, both have severed ties with family and friends. The only thing they have together is a love for the bottle. When Harry decides suicide is their only way out things go from bad to worst. Deep down, Harry is a decent man who feebly attempts to do the right thing and never succeeds.

Lines I liked, “Love is in what you do, not in what you say” (p 423), “you watch them overshadow you until you are nothing except a shadow within a shadow and then lost altogether in the unequal merger” (p 445) and “Tears in a bar are not unusual” (p 567).

Reason read: Pick-Up  is one of the stories in Crime Novels which I am reading in honor of National Crime Prevention week.

Author fact: Charles Willeford is a war hero of World War II. He received a Purple Heart.

Book trivia: Pick-Up was originally written in 1955. Willeford’s writing is so clean you can just picture the era perfectly.

BookLust Twist: from Crime Novels: American Noir listed in Book Lust in the chapter called “Les Crime Noir” (p 65).