Did somebody die?”“Yes,” I replied.“Who?” he asked, starting to freak out. I pulled out my notepad and asked him if he knew a Marcie Tucker. “Marcie? Hm, Marcie, it doesn't ring a bell but… Oh yeah, the temp who's filling in while my regular assistant is out, I think her name is Marcie. In fact, she was supposed to be here today. I was actually starting to worry that… Wait. Is she…”“Unfortunately yes,” I said, “Marcie was found in her apartment late last night uh… no longer alive.” My bedside manner has never been my strong suit.Dr. Taggart looked distressed and began to ramble incoherently for a minute. I let him work through it though, I figured it was his way of grieving. I wouldn't have even paid attention to it except for the fact that it was kind of goofily, ineptly… well, poignant:Oh, uh, Oh my God. That's terrible. I uh… I hope she didn't have any family. I mean, I don't hope she didn't have any family, what I mean is, if she uh… if she didn't have any family then there would be nobody to get all bummed out about this and uh… you know, when something like this happens, you always think about the poor, heartbroken family, so uh… if she doesn't have any family then uh… the bright side would be that nobody would, you know, have to be all bummed out.Hm. I guess I never thought of it that way. Awkward wording aside, he's kind of got a point there.

~ Jules Cassard

He began as a minor imitator of Fitzgerald, wrote a novel in the late twenties which won a prize, became dissatisfied with his work, stopped writing for a period of years. When he came back it was to BLACK MASK and the other detective magazines with a curious and terrible fiction which had never been seen before in the genre markets; Hart Crane and certainly Hemingway were writing of people on the edge of their emotions and their possibility but the genre mystery markets were filled with characters whose pain was circumstantial, whose resolution was through action; Woolrich's gallery was of those so damaged that their lives could only be seen as vast anticlimax to central and terrible events which had occurred long before the incidents of the story. Hammett and his great disciple, Chandler, had verged toward this more than a little, there is no minimizing the depth of their contribution to the mystery and to literature but Hammett and Chandler were still working within the devices of their category: detectives confronted problems and solved (or more commonly failed to solve) them, evil was generalized but had at least specific manifestations: Woolrich went far out on the edge. His characters killed, were killed, witnessed murder, attempted to solve it but the events were peripheral to the central circumstances. What I am trying to say, perhaps, is that Hammett and Chandler wrote of death but the novels and short stories of Woolrich *were* death. In all of its delicacy and grace, its fragile beauty as well as its finality.Most of his plots made no objective sense. Woolrich was writing at the cutting edge of his time. Twenty years later his vision would attract a Truffaut whose own influences had been the philosophy of Sartre, the French nouvelle vague, the central conception that nothing really mattered. At all. But the suffering. Ah, that mattered; that mattered quite a bit.

~ Barry N. Malzberg