Monday, July 13, 2015

Pulp Poem of the Week



Who wants to go to heaven
in the rain
on an empty stomach,
soaking newspapers thrown over you
without a dime in your pocket?

          Cornell Woolrich
          Hotel Room
          1958

Monday, April 13, 2015

Pulp Poem of the Week



The past
was filling the room
like a tide
of whispers.

          Ross Macdonald
          The Instant Enemy
          1968

Monday, April 6, 2015

Pulp Poem of the Week



A favor’s no good
unless
you pay for it.

          Lawrence Block
          A Stab in the Dark
          1981

Monday, March 30, 2015

Pulp Poem of the Week



for too many years
the only exercise
I had got was
bending my elbow

          Lawrence Block
          Time to Murder and Create
          1976

Monday, March 23, 2015

Pulp Poem of the Week



There was nothing
of the cheap moll
in this set-up.
She was not
just paint and powder.
You could scratch this dame
and still find her
good underneath.

          James Hadley Chase
          No Orchids for Miss Blandish
          1939

Monday, March 16, 2015

Pulp Poem of the Week




You have
a couple
of hours
of fun.
And then
you have
a lot
of hell.

          Don Tracy
          Last Year’s Snow
          1937

Monday, March 9, 2015

Pulp Poem of the Week



spread-eagled
on the bed
like a steamrollered
Arthur Dimmesdale

          Donald E. Westlake
          What’s So Funny?

          2007

Monday, March 2, 2015

Pulp Poem of the Week



Don’t ever get a girl
that’s gotta get in
by ten o’clock.
Eleven, yes,
but not ten.

          P. J. Wolfson
          Is My Flesh of Brass?
          1934

Monday, February 23, 2015

Pulp Poem of the Week



You take a guy who writes a book.
Can you say why he can write a book
while you can’t?
Or another Joe can paint your picture
so it looks just like you,
while if you did it,
it would look like a dog maybe,
or a camel maybe.
Some guys can do one thing—
well, this job is the only one I can do.
But I can do it, baby.
And I’ll be right—
no matter how many people
try to lie me out of it,
you included,
I’ll get the truth.
Because I won’t stop until I do.
And don’t you forget it.

          Harry Whittington
          Call Me Killer
          1951

Monday, February 16, 2015

Pulp Poem of the Week


she thinks you’re a grown man;
either go down and do it,
or go up and tell her that she’s wrong


          Charles Williams
          Aground

          1960

Monday, February 9, 2015

Pulp Poem of the Week



An ounce of caution
is worth
a pound of plasma.

          Donald E. Westlake
          The Mercenaries
         
1960

Monday, February 2, 2015

Pulp Poem of the Week



That was the moment
his mouth opened,
his throat closed,
his eyes bulged,
his heart contracted,
and his hands began to shake
like fringe on a cowgirl.

          Donald E. Westlake
          The Road to Ruin
          2004

Monday, January 26, 2015

Pulp Poem of the Week



Out of food,
out of liquor,
even out of coffee.

          Lionel White
          The Snatchers
          1953

Monday, January 19, 2015

Pulp Poem of the Week



“In the room the women come and go
Talking of Michael Angelo.”
Does that suggest anything to you, sir?

Yeah—it suggests to me that
the guy didn’t know very much about women.

          Raymond Chandler
          The Long Goodbye
          1953 

Monday, January 12, 2015

Pulp Poem of the Week



He coiled a forearm
far back of his own shoulder,
swung rabidly with it,
caught the bodyguard flat-handed
on the side of the face
with a sound like wet linen
being pounded on a clothesline.

          Cornell Woolrich
          Hotel Room
          1958

Monday, January 5, 2015

Pulp Poem of the Week




It is is not
necessary to know
what a person is a afraid of.
It is
enough to know
the person is afraid.

          Lawrence Block
          The Sins of the Fathers
          1976

Monday, December 29, 2014

Pulp Poem of the Week



This was his Sunday
choke.
It would have squirted
sap from a tree.

          Cornell Woolrich
          Strangler’s Serenade
          1951

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Book Review: Lawrence Block, A Stab in the Dark (1981)



Spoilers follow: I feel like a broken record, or maybe a corrupted MP3 file, waiting for the great series that I know is coming but is not quite here yet. In A Stab in the Dark, the fourth Matthew Scudder novel, Scudder takes on a cold case involving a young woman stabbed with an ice pick. Scudder forms a semi-ludicrous theory as to who and why, and when Scudder confronts the who with this theory, he obligingly confesses. Case closed. Along the way, Lawrence Block engages in one of his favorite narrative perversions: He repeatedly dangles a compelling narrative possibility before his readers—in this case, Scudder interviewing a jailed serial killer—and when the event finally occurs, the narrative skips over it. (For a jaw-dropping example of this phenomenon, see Killing Castro.) At the end of A Stab in the Dark, Scudder goes to the door of an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting, but he does not go inside. I have a guess as to the significance of the title of the sixth novel in this series (When the Sacred Ginmill Closes), but I don’t want to stick out my neck too far. Grade C+

Monday, December 22, 2014

Pulp Poem of the Week



So rarely
is the truth
the simplest
possible answer.

          Donald E. Westlake
          “Party Animal”
          1993

Monday, December 15, 2014

Book Review: Lawrence Block, In the Midst of Death (1976)



Three books into the Matthew Scudder series, I suspect that there may be some self-fulfilling prophecy at work in my reactions thus far: I have been told many times that the series begins relatively slowly before hitting its stride with book five (Eight Million Ways to Die). Is this what I am experiencing because it is what I am expecting, or is this what I am experiencing because it is true? I know that my semi-negative reaction to the first Scudder novel (The Sins of the Fathers) was sincere, as I have little patience for Freudian claptrap in any context. I liked the second novel (Time to Murder and Create) a bit better, if only for the absence of Dr. Freud, and now I like the third novel a bit better still: the plot of In the Midst of Death is less artificial than the earlier novels, and there is some significant development in Scudder’s character beyond his cycles of drinking and tithing. Nevertheless, I still feel as though I’m just killing time waiting for book five. Grade: B-

Pulp Poem of the Week



I hope I
break even today;
I could
use the cash.

          Donald E. Westlake
          “Horse Laugh”
          1986

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Book Review: Lawrence Block, Time to Murder and Create (1976)



In 
Time to Murder and Create, the second Matthew Scudder novel, a dead man leaves Scudder payment to find his killer, and our hero pursues the case because he is compulsively honorable, even if he is not particularly ethical. Scudder’s plan is to tempt the killer into attempting to kill Scudder, thereby exposing the killer’s identity. By all rights, Scudder ought to die in this novel; he is, after all, a drunk who takes no particular measures to keep himself safe. Perhaps this is a half-assed suicide attempt on Scudder’s part, though when someone tries to kill him, his reflex is to fight for his own life. After Scudder fails to get himself killed, he does his best to identify the killer with his ratiocinative powers vacillating between anemic and otherworldly as the novel’s plot requires. Quick, entertaining, not entirely satisfying. Grade: B-

Monday, December 8, 2014

Pulp Poem of the Week



Life is a gamble,

at terrible odds—
if it was a bet
you wouldn’t take it.


          Tom Stoppard
          Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead
          1966

Monday, December 1, 2014

Pulp Poem of the Week




You open a door
in New York,
you never know
what’s in there.

          Donald E. Westlake
          Get Real
          2009