‘In Love’ by Alfred Hayes – An End to the Affair

‘In Love’ by Alfred Hayes (1953) – 130 pages

9780720612943_p0_v1_s260x420“In Love” is an intense record of a break-up between a man and a woman told by the man. The story opens with a man sitting in a bar telling a lady at the bar the story of the end of his last affair.   This is a smoky noir story in which we never learn the names of the man or of his old girlfriend.

They were at that stage where they both realize it isn’t working. Then suddenly the girlfriend lets him know that she doesn’t want to see him anymore, and that she has a new man

“For she was, I saw now, quite capable of taking care of herself; and I, who had postponed for so long a time the decision to leave her, who had (I thought) been so careful of her feelings, so reluctant (I thought) to hurt her, so solicitous (I thought) of her welfare, had been the one to be shunted aside with so little consideration. “

 Left out in the cold, the man is devastated and finally realizes how much he has been in love the entire time.  We have emotional scenes of the man almost stalking his old girlfriend, scenes where he unsuccessfully tries to re-establish his affair with the woman, a scene where he notices the tooth marks of the new boyfriend on her neck.  Then there is the short reconciliation between them which she uses to get her new man to commit.  It is that old story, you don’t know what you had until it’s gone.

 “I was capable of dissolving at the least kind word, and self-pity, in inexhaustible doses, lay close to my outraged surface.” 

 This is a touching honest depiction of the agony of a dying relationship told from a man’s point of view.   The details ring true.

Alfred HayesI had never heard of Alfred Hayes before even though I’ve been studying literature on my own for about forty years.  That is what draws me to the New York Review Books Classics series, their efforts to salvage good writers who would otherwise be totally forgotten.  I found out that Alfred Hayes, besides writing seven novels, had a long career as a screenwriter both in Italy and the United States.  He wrote the film noir classics ‘Clash by Night’ and ‘Human Desire’.  In the television era, he wrote 7 episodes of the Alfred Hitchcock Hour, three episodes of Mannix, and 2 episodes each of Logan’s Run and Nero Wolfe.

This is a strong ultimately sad novel which is vivid in its detailed subjective story of the break-up of an affair.   

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10 responses to this post.

  1. This is an author I’ve yet to read, but by the sound of your review I suspect he’s like Henry Green and B S Johnson, and that I will really like him once I take the plunge.

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    • Hi Lisa,
      Henry Green is one of my favorites. I wish he had written more. B.S. Johnson not so much. I finished ‘Christie Malry’s Own Double-Entry’ but thought it was kind of stupid.

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      • I haven’t come across that one, yet…
        I was a bit cross with the Book Depository over the last BSJ I bought: it was supposed to have a hole in the middle of the page and it didn’t. So it’s not going to be the experimental fiction it’s supposed to be.

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  2. Great review, Tony!

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  3. I read his My Face for the World to See recently (I haven’t written it up yet, but likely shall during November). Like this it features a relationship between an unnamed man and woman. It’s superb, intense and well written with a noirish quality.

    That said, the books sound linked but not the same, which suggests that both will be equally rewarding. This is definitely going on my to read list, so thanks, and i recommend My Face to you as well.

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    • Hi Max,
      I definitely will be reading ‘My Face for the World to See’, and I will be looking forward to your review. A lot of these screenwriters had a great writing talent especially during the forties and fifties, the noir era. That was when movies had characters and plots, not just super-heroes and special effects.

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      • You’re preaching to the converted, and I say that as someone not averse to the odd superhero movie. I just see them as a bit like McDonalds – fine if you fancy one occasionally but it shouldn’t be the main part of your diet.

        I was saying at Guy Savage’s blog today that I think His Girl Friday still has a stronger female lead role than most contemporary films manage. Admittedly it’s a masterpiece, but it’s over 70 years old so we should at least be regularly equalling its depiction of women.

        The problem of CGI is that it can only enhance writing, it can’t replace it. It enables the making of SF spectaculars that couldn’t previously have been made, but to be any good they still need good writers just as films ever have.

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        • Hi Max,
          ‘His Girl Friday’ is one old movie I’ve missed. I’ve watched a lot of the movies from the Forties and Fifties during the last few years, because even the movies from the Sixties seem kind of soppy in comparison.
          They were somehow able to make King Kong in 1933, and the version they made then is arguably better than the one they made in 2005. There is a reason all those old Twilight Zone episodes, made long long before CGI, are still popular.

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          • I rather envy you. His Girl Friday is one of the greats. You’re in for a treat when you get round to it.

            I haven’t watched the King Kong remake yet, mostly as it’s about three hours long which is a lot for a giant ape movie.

            CGI serves story, but it can’t replace it.

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