Nightmare Alley

William Lindsay Gresham


Few hardboiled novels of the 1940s have earned as avid a following as William Lindsay Gresham’s Nightmare Alley. An immediate sensation when it appeared in 1946, the book spawned a classic film starring Tyrone Power and Joan Blondell, sowed the seeds for the literary subgenre of carnival noir, and introduced to the pop-culture vocabulary the term geek.
       Nightmare Alley follows the exploits of Stanton Carlisle, a ruthless hustler who learns the tricks of the carny trade and uses them to establish himself as a spiritual guru, preying on the wealthy and the weak. Carlisle’s determined rise to power and inevitable plunge into depravity is more than great drama, it is an evisceration of the postwar American dream, told by a writer whose hard-luck life was just as compelling as his character’s.
       Collected in this volume is a sampling of Gresham’s other carnival-themed work: essays offering first-hand observations of life beneath the canvas tops. These essays have been long unavailable.
       An essay by Bret Wood, William Lindsay Gresham: The Disillusionist, explores the novelist’s fascination with carnivals, magic, and spiritualism; and Gresham’s lifelong crusade to extract the carefully-guarded secrets that lay hidden within.
       This handsome edition features striking dustjacket and interior art by David Ho, sumptuous cloth binding with blind stamping and onlay images, Tarot card images in the interior, photographs, article illustrations, original magazine art, movie posters, and much more.
       Nightmare Alley
is one of the most highly regarded crime novels ever published. This edition is a fitting testament to an American classic. You will want this superb book for your shelf.

edition information

  • Limited to 200 copies, each signed by Bret Wood and David Ho.
  • Comprehensive introduction by Bret Wood.
  • Gallery of old editions and movie posters of Nightmare Alley, reprinted in full color.
  • Photographs with the essays.
  • Ribbon marker, head and tail bands, sewn binding, rounded back, and other extras.
  • Original book price: $75.
  • Published September 2013.
  • ISBN 978-1-61347-006-0.