Tarot in Nightmare Alley by K A Laity

My latest ramble at PNM; it may turn into something more formal at some point.

Punk Noir Magazine

nightmare alley

When I showed Nightmare Alleyto the students in my noir film course, one came up at the end to complain that the tarot readings were way off. I agreed and encouraged him to pick up Gresham’s novel. I assured him that the author cared a lot more about the tarot than Hollywood (e.g. the Death card surely always means literal death).

William Lindsay Gresham must have spent some time exploring the tarot in his too-short time on this earth. The troubled man might have found some solace shuffling the fated deck or maybe just amused himself reading fortunes for others like Zeena does in the novel. According to Nick Tosches’ introduction to the NYRB edition of the novel, he turned to tarot after Freud. Through the character of Lilith Ritter, he seems to suggest that psychoanalysis is just another form of the grift.

Gresham structures the book with…

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