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Saturday 23 June 2018

Quotes Worth Saving (23): William Lindsay Gresham 'Nightmare Alley'

William Lindsay Gresham's Nightmare Alley is a novel about the rise and fall of con-artist who uses his carnival freak-show learned preformative misinformation to exploit others, although as cynical noir-tinged story written by an alcoholic depressive you would be correct in assuming that there is more going on and that this is not going to be the hero's journey narrative. Each chapter of the novel is represented by and alludes to a specific Tarot card. The book was first published in 1946 and was quickly picked up by 20th Century Fox. The film starring Tyrone Power came out the following year (1947) and although now regarded as a classic film noir, it was considered 'shocking' at the time due to its salacious content and due to this reaction was not a financial success.

Anyway, here is a speech/rant given by Stanton Carlisle to his psychoanalyst/co-conspirator:

Apropos of late stage Capitalism...

And a certain 'Leader of the Free World'

I'm a hustler, God damn it. Do you understand that, you frozen-faced bitch? I'm on the make. Nothing matters in this goddamned lunatic asylum of a world but dough. When you get that you're the boss. If you don't have it you're the end man on the daisy chain. I'm going to get it if I have to bust every bone in my head doing it. I'm going to milk it out of those chumps and take them for the gold in their teeth before I'm through. You don't dare yell copper on me because if you spilled anything about me all your other Johns would get the wind up their necks and you wouldn't have any more at twenty-five bucks a crack. You've got enough stuff in that bastard tin file cabinet to blow 'em all up. I know what you've got in there - society dames with the clap, bankers that take it up the ass, actresses that live on hop, people with idiot kids. You've got it all down. If I had that stuff I'd give 'em cold readings that would have 'em crawling on their knees to me. And you sit there out of this world with that dead-pan face and listen to the chumps puking their guts out day after day for peanuts. If I knew that much I'd stop when I'd made a million bucks and not a minute sooner. You're a chump too, blondie. They're all Johns. They're asking for it. Well, I'm here to give it out. And if anybody was to get the big mouth and sing to the cops about me I'd tell a couple of guys I know. They wouldn't fall for your jujit stuff.

William Lindsay Gresham
Nightmare Alley
New York Review Books, NY, 2010
ISBN 9781590173480