Friday, September 30, 2011

Book Review: Richard Stark, Slayground (1971)

I prefer to read novels knowing as little as possible about them going in, so Slayground represents a special achievement for me: I began reading the often-discussed, often-praised fourteenth Parker novel knowing absolutely nothing about it—I even managed to tune out the illustrations on the cover of the Chicago reprint (except for the always-present Big Gun). So, in that spirit, I’m not going to tell you anything about it, either. Grade: B+

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Book Review: Richard Stark, Deadly Edge (1971)

Deadly Edge perhaps deserves better than the grade I give it, but I’m trying to make distinctions within the Parker canon—or, to put it another way, a C-level Parker novel is still a damn good novel. “Part One” of the book, which runs uninterrupted for nearly 50 pages, details Parker and his partners stealing the all-cash take from a rock concert. No one does this sort of thing better than Starklake, and Deadly Edge would be worth reading just for this set piece. The 150 pages that follow are not nearly so compelling, as Parker plays cat and mouse with two uninteresting villains who want to steal what he has stolen. This, too, is well done, but Parker-the-thief is almost always more interesting than Parker-the-anything-else. Grade: C+

Monday, September 26, 2011

Pulp Poem of the Week

Lit by her son,
a signal flare burst
under the skirts of
Mme Roger, of Clichy;
damages were
Félix Fénéon
Novels in Three Lines
(translated by Luc Sante)

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Book Review: Richard Stark, The Blackbird (1969)

One reason that the Parker novels are superior to the Grofield novels is that, over the long haul, it's more pleasant to spend time with a sullen sociopath than a smartass. In The Blackbird, Grofield's schtick begins to wear thin around page 100, but the book has more than enough action and intelligence to keep you going. Grade: B-

Book Review: Gil Brewer, Memory of Passion (1962)

Contrary to what you may have heard, Gil Brewer had his mojo working well beyond the 1950s. Memory of Passion tells of a husband wife who still have “active glands,” though not for each other. Things get complicated when the flame of the husband’s teenaged years reappears in his life—having not aged a day in more than 20 years. Things get more complicated still when we learn that this ageless flame is being stalked by a serial killer. Another excellent Brewer ripe for rediscovery. Grade: A-

Monday, September 19, 2011

Pulp Poem of the Week

I stood on the top
of the toboggan slide,
thinking how small it was
and how large it had looked
to me when I was a kid.
It had been a world then,
a big one.
You could get lost in it.
Now I knew no world
was big enough
to get lost in.
Gil Brewer
“Final Appearance”

Monday, September 12, 2011

Pulp Poem of the Week

It’s too late
for anything
getting away.
Gil Brewer
The Red Scarf

Monday, September 5, 2011

Pulp Poem of the Week

He looked as if
somebody had
his soul.
Gil Brewer
13 French Street

Friday, September 2, 2011

A New Gil Brewer Story!

Courtesy of yours truly, an unpublished Gil Brewer story will appear in the next issue of Needle. Read all about it here: