Monday, February 27, 2012

Pulp Poem of the Week

for God
Horace McCoy
They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?

Monday, February 20, 2012

Pulp Poem of the Week

fear was a small
bright-eyed rodent
in my bowels
Gil Brewer
A Taste for Sin

Book Review: Horace McCoy, They Shoot Horses, Don't They? (1935)

In reading a novel about a marathon dance contest, is it wrong to want to see the end of the contest and thus find out who wins? Or is the fact that there is no winner—among the dancers and the readers—part of the point? Grade: A-

Friday, February 17, 2012

Book Review: Kate Chopin, The Awakening (1899)

Edna Pontellier: A femme fatale whose victim is herself. Grade: B+

Monday, February 13, 2012

Pulp Poem of the Week

Why is it that we
rejoice at birth and
grieve at a funeral?
It is because
we are not
the person involved.
Mark Twain
Pudd’head Wilson

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Book Review: Mark Twain, Pudd'nhead Wilson (1894)

Mark Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is the wellspring of the American vernacular novel; as a result, Twain is sometimes cited as the father of the hardboiled novel—never mind the fact that there’s nothing much hardboiled about Huck Finn, especially by the time that you reach its famously weak ending. Much darker, though less vernacular, is a later Twain work, Pudd’nhead Wilson, whose laughs counterbalance the book’s ultimately noir impulse. Grade: A-

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Book Review: Taiyo Matsumoto, Blue Spring (1993)

I have been searching for a manga to pair with with Charlie Huston’s The Shotgun Rule in a juvie noir unit in my Japanese/American noir class, and I think I’ve finally found it. Taiyo Matsumoto’s Blue Spring is a collection of seven interconnected stories from the lives of burned out seniors at Kitano High School. Seasoning gritty realism with the tiniest dash of surrealism, this book, I suspect, will grow in my estimation when I revisit it with a class. Possible pedagogical bonus: There’s a movie, too. Grade: B

Monday, February 6, 2012

Pulp Poem of the Week

A man’s either got to
be young and full of sass
and vinegar and ready
to tackle anything,
or else he’s go to
have a lot of money.
Charles Williams
The Diamond Bikini

Friday, February 3, 2012

Book Review: Otsuichi and Kendi Oiwa, Goth (2003)

This mangafication of the Otsuichi novel of the same name features a pair of death-obsessed teenagers who have a knack for stumbling upon serial killers in their midst. As a result, though horrifying scenes abound, this horror is couched in a world of coincidental whimsy. Perhaps this is a personal failing, but I prefer my serial killers without whimsy. Grade C-