Edward Bunker, 1933-2005
July 25, 2005 3:05 AM   Subscribe

"It has always been as if I carry chaos with me the way others carry typhoid. My purpose in writing is to transcend my existence by illuminating it."
Crime novelist Edward Bunker, who died last Tuesday at age 71 (LATimes obit), became at 17 the youngest inmate at San Quentin after he stabbed a prison guard at a youth detention facility. It was during his 18 years of incarceration for robbery, check forgery and other crimes that Bunker learned to write. In 1973, while still in prison, he made his literary debut with "No Beast So Fierce", a novel about a paroled thief James Ellroy called "quite simply one of the great crime novels of the past 30 years" and that was made into the movie "Straight Time" starring Dustin Hoffman. Also a screenwriter ("Runaway Train"), Bunker appeared as an actor in nearly two dozen roles, most notably as Mr. Blue in "Reservoir Dogs." (more inside)
posted by matteo (9 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I like her early stuff. You know,
"Lucky Star," "Borderline" - but
once she got into her "Papa Don't
Preach" phase, I don't know, I
tuned out.
posted by matteo at 3:06 AM on July 25, 2005

The movie roles and the "prison writer" label make him a colorful character, but the fact is that Bunker was a brilliant writer. "No Beast So Fierce" is a great read, and "The Animal Factory", and "Little Boy Blue" are among my favorite crime novels ever. They manage to be intensely hard-boiled and unsentimental while getting deep into the characters emotions and relationships at the same time. "The Animal Factory" is basically a platonic homosexual love story set in prison, while "Little Boy Blue" is a surprisingly lucid fictional retelling of his childhood.

Hopefully he'll be remembered as an author first and foremost. RIP.
posted by fuzz at 5:12 AM on July 25, 2005


I read 'Mr Blue' and 'Animal Factory' a few years back - they were both great reads.

Didn't know he'd died.

Rest in Peace...
posted by the cuban at 5:47 AM on July 25, 2005

Bunker, mort d'un ténor des barreaux (Libération)
posted by matteo at 5:54 AM on July 25, 2005

posted by dial-tone at 7:18 AM on July 25, 2005

That's sad, I'm a huge fan. His autobiography (I think it's called Education of a Felon) is really fascinating as well.

Straight Time is a great movie, Dustin Hoffman handcuffs M Emmet Walsh to fence in the middle of the highway and pulls his pants down, then Walsh does some brilliant acting. Any fan of crime/prison fiction should really go after his stuff. Thanks for the post Matteo.
posted by Divine_Wino at 8:33 AM on July 25, 2005

posted by keijo at 9:50 AM on July 25, 2005

Posts like this are why I love this place. I wasn't aware of this guy, or his legacy. I'm off to rent the disc, I'll score some of his books tomorrow.

Just in time for summer vacation too!
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 10:06 PM on July 25, 2005

Runaway Train is my favorite film. Sorry to see him go.
posted by Four Flavors at 1:44 PM on July 26, 2005

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