Monday, December 31, 2012

Pulp Poem of the Week

People who think
That yelling and screaming
Are the same thing
Have never screamed.

          David Rachels
          Verse Noir

Monday, December 24, 2012

Pulp Poem of the Week

Mme Ernestine Gapol,
dwelling in Vanves,
on Avenue Gambetta,
committed suicide:
two bullets in the head.

          Félix Fénéon
          Novels in Three Lines
          (translated by Luc Sante)

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Book Review: Raymond Chandler, The Long Goodbye (1953)

In a 1945 letter, Raymond Chandler wrote that “it doesn’t matter a damn what a novel is about, that the only fiction of any moment in any age is that which does magic with words.” In 1947, he wrote that he was “fundamentally rather uninterested in plot” and that “the most durable thing in writing is style.” In 1953, Chandler showed that he meant it when he published The Long Goodbye, which was 47% longer than his previous Philip Marlowe novel, 1949’s The Little Sister. This extra 47% is almost all style—or, if you prefer, padding. If you agree with Chandler that “it doesn’t matter a damn what a novel is about,” then you will likely think that The Long Goodbye is his masterpiece. If you disagree, then you will likely find the book self-indulgent. I tend toward the latter camp. Marlowe is still Marlowe, but all the extra style gives him the chance for even more self-righteous speechifying than usual, rather as if he is pointing the way for John D. MacDonald to invent Travis McGee. In sum, I can read any page in The Long Goodbye with great pleasure, but there’s just too damn many of them. Grade: B 

Monday, December 17, 2012

Pulp Poem of the Week

there’s no place to hide,
where you are.

     Richard Stark
     Ask the Parrot

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Book Review: Kenzo Kitakata, City of Refuge (1982)

Twenty-one-year-old Koji Mizui’s life spins out of control: his girlfriend turns out to be a minor; he (sort of) loses his job after spending time in jail falsely arrested; he kills one man, and then another, in semi-self-defense. As a result, he ends up running from the mob and the police, travelling with an abandoned six-year-old to whom he becomes a surrogate father. In sum, noir crossed with a buddy movie crossed with Sesame Street. City of Refuge tries to be moving but ends up bland. Grade: C+

Monday, December 10, 2012

Pulp Poem of the Week

The first impression was of
a slender, stylish, well-put-together
woman in her forties,
but almost instantly
the impression changed.
She wasn’t slender;
she was bone thin,
and inside the stylish clothes
she walked with a graceless
like someone whose medicine
had been cut off too soon.
Beneath the neat cowl of
well-groomed ash-blond hair,
her face was too thin,
too sharp-featured,

too deeply lined.
This could have
made her look haggard;

it made her look mean.
From the evidence,
what would have
attracted her husband
would have been
her father’s bank.

          Richard Stark
          Nobody Runs Forever

Monday, December 3, 2012

Pulp Poem of the Week

The third time,
the bottle smashed,
leaving him with
the jagged neck.
After that,
it got easier.

     Richard Stark