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Roy Hoopes and James M. Cain

December 11, 2009

Roy Hoopes, whose 1982 biography of James M. Cain remains the definitive work on the hard-boiled writer, died on December 1st aged 87. Though Hoopes was a consummate professional, a prolific writer of newspaper and magazine articles as well as over 30 books, his long, remarkable book on Cain is the one that is remembered. I remember reading it some time in the early 1990s and being impressed with its breadth, as well as the amount of detail Hoopes had managed to wrest from Cain himself. The Washington Post has an obituary of Hoopes, but it’s ‘Post Mortem’ column this week also has a piece on Cain by Matt Schudel:

… Not many people know that Cain was born in Annapolis in 1892 and grew up on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, where his father was president of Washington College.

Even fewer people seem to realize that Cain spent a good deal of time in Washington. He studied singing here (his earliest ambition was to be an opera singer), sold records at the old Kann’s department store in 1914 and was sitting in Lafayette Square one day, when he decided he was going to be a writer.

More on Cain here.

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