Monday, August 31, 2009

Pulp Poem of the Week

His books don't sound
like he had any fun
writing them.
But you see ads,
you can buy every book
Zane Grey wrote and
fill up a whole shelf.
For people who
don't know any better.
Elmore Leonard
Up in Honey's Room

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Book Review: Jim Tully, Circus Parade (1927)

A bleak portrait of life with a traveling circus, Jim Tully's Circus Parade focuses on anecdotes and character sketches rather than sustained narrative. As a result, the proceedings may sometimes be tedious, especially for readers familiar with the subject matter. Grade: C

Monday, August 24, 2009

Pulp Poem of the Week

It had been good.
He'd thought he loved her,
and she'd certainly acted
the part of loving him.
It was like getting cut
across the throat
when he found she was laying
not one guy, not even two--
but every beer-faced stud
in the county.
And then coming back to him
with her fine virginal face,
her just-for-you-honey body,
and her church-going, fine, clean
mind that manufactured
all the crazy promises
that had him standing
on his ear night and day.
And he never knew until
that time in a bar,
when a stranger began
bragging to him
about the quick piece
he'd knocked off
that afternoon
in a park
on the edge of town.

Gil Brewer
Little Tramp

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Book Review: Donald Goines, Daddy Cool (1974)

Daddy Cool features the most jarring contrast between style and subject matter of any book that I can remember reading. While the plot is fairly brutal--featuring, among other things, the gang rape of a child and an assassin who works only with knives--the novel is written in the most wooden grammar-book prose imaginable. Even the profanity-laced dialogue is written as though Donald Goines imagined that some schoolmarm somewhere would be assigning him a grade. I found the narrative sometimes to be powerful when I was able to tune out the prose style, but tuning out the prose style was difficult. Grade: C

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Book Review: Gil Brewer, Little Tramp (1957)

After the train wreck of 1957's The Angry Dream (aka The Girl from Hateville), Gil Brewer finished the year with two much stronger efforts: The Brat and Little Tramp. Little Tramp is a Noir Everyman story, in which our ordinary guy, Gary Dunn, is blackmailed by the title character into kidnapping her so that she can extort money from her father, who also happens to be Gary's former boss. For me, what often elevates truly great noir is the ending: Simply put, how memorable is it? Gil Brewer loads up a powder keg and lights the fuse. Will he snuff the fuse, or will he let it blow? And if he lets it blow, will the explosion somehow surprise me--but without making me roll my eyes? This time out, Brewer does a fine job of packing the explosives, but if you ask me next week what happened to the keg, I probably won't be able to remember.
Grade: B

Monday, August 17, 2009

Book Review: Elmore Leonard, Up in Honey's Room (2007)

In need of something to keep me awake as I drove from Ohio to Virginia, I found this on CD at a Books-a-Million for $10. The most I can say for it is that it did manage to keep me awake . . . barely. There are a couple of memorable characters (the title character and Carl Webster from The Hot Kid), but no drama to speak of. Skip this one. Grade: C-

Pulp Poem of the Week

I don't mind if you
forgot my name.
It's about as ordinary
as a name can be.
Even I feel like
forgetting it sometimes.
It's not that easy, though,
to forget your own name.
Haruki Murakami
After Dark
(translated by Jay Rubin)

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Book Review: Haruki Murakami, After Dark (2004)

80% night people of Tokyo + 20% unnecessary pretentiousness. Grade: B

Monday, August 10, 2009

Pulp Poem of the Week

are just
a nuisance.

John Farris
Baby Moll

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Book Review: Max Allan Collins, The First Quarry (2008)

Though the title of 2006's The Last Quarry seemed to promise there would be no more, Max Allan Collins's crass, banal hitman has returned to narrate his genesis . . . and it's pretty good. In fact, if you read The First Quarry immediately after Deadly Beloved, MAC's previous effort for Hard Case Crime, it will seem like Raymond Chandler. Grade: B

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Book Review: Ken Bruen and Jason Starr, The Max (2008)

Unless you adored Slide, the second entry in the Max Fisher saga, there is not much reason to read the third. In The Max, the same noir comique schtick is in place, right down to the heavy-handed in-jokes, which are stretched even thinner this time around. The best plan: Read Bust, the first and best entry in the series, and then stop. Grade: C-

Monday, August 3, 2009

Pulp Poem of the Week

it is good
for a man
to be drunk.

Dorothy B. Hughes
Ride the Pink Horse

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Book Review: John Farris, Baby Moll (1958)

Pete Mallory has cut his ties with the mob. He has a woman he loves, and they are engaged to be married. Pete is ready to live a normal life . . . that is, until his old boss blackmails him into doing one last job, etc., etc., etc. Competent but forgettable. As with quite a few Hard Case Crime reprints, it is difficult to figure why this one was deemed worthy of rescue from oblivion. Grade: C