Book review: Paperbacks from Hell, the Twisted History of ’70s and ’80s Horror Fiction

I loved Grady Hendrix’s soon to be released book, Paperbacks From Hell: The Twisted History of ‘70s and ‘80s Horror Fiction. From the opening, his discussion of John Christopher’s totally bizarre 1966 novel, The Little People, about an assortment of unsavoury individuals who spend a weekend in an Irish castle which is also inhabited by evil Nazi leprechauns (‘the Gestapochauns’) to the last few pages, the dying days of American mass market paperback horror, it is a wild, exhilarating ride.

But as well as being a lot of fun, Paperbacks From Hell is also an important work of pulp fiction and pop culture history.

The book comprises a series of thematic chapters, grouped from the most part around one or two foundation texts. Thus the chapter on satanic pulp and mass market paperbacks opens with a look at the cultural importance of Ira Levin’s Rosemary’s Baby and Peter Blatty’s The Exorcist. The Omen (1976) is the starting point for a look at the large sub-genre of books about women being impregnated by all manner of hell spawn and murderous offspring. Peter Benchley’s paperback sensation, Jaws, is the precursor to a discussion about the wave of pulp and mass market paperback books featuring murderous creatures and animals turned homicidal: rats, dogs, cuts, pigs, insects, even rabbits.… Read more

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Guest post: Tony Knighton – character arc or is crime fiction literature?

Today I’m thrilled to host a guest post by my friend, Tony Knighton, Philadelphia’s only fire fighting crime writer and, I mean, he really is a fire fighter. Tony has a new book out, Three Hours Past Midnight, via Crime Wave Press, also the publishers of my first novel, Ghost MoneyThree Hours Past Midnight is Tony’s second book. His first, was a terrific collection of short stories titled Happy Hour and Other Philadelphia. Three Hours Past Midnight is the story of a professional thief who teams with an old partner eager for one last score – a safe in the home of a wealthy Philadelphia politician. But they are not the only ones set on the cash. It’s on my Kindle. Read Tony’s guest post and then pick up a copy of Three Hours Past Midnight for yourself.

Take it away, Tony.

Andrew has graciously invited me to post an essay about my latest work Three Hours Past Midnight from Crime Wave Press. A novel, it is set in my hometown, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and features the un-named protagonist from an earlier story of mine, ‘Mister Wonderful’.

While speaking about the Richard Stark books and Stark’s master thief Parker, crime fiction writer Eryk Pruitt said, ‘The least interesting character in the Parker books is Parker’.… Read more

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Noir at the Bar Melbourne redux & other upcoming literary events

Just updating Pulp Curry readers about some literary events I’ll be part of in August and early September.

First up, Melbourne’s second Noir at the Bar will take place on Tuesday, August 15, at Grub Street Bookshop, 379 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy. Some of Melbourne’s best noiristas will be on hand to read their crime fiction to you. Featuring Des Barry, Annie Hauxwell (author of the Catherine Berlin crime books), Jessica Curry, Ian Rogers (author of The Student, which I recently reviewed on this site) and Laura Elizabeth Woollett, whose short story collection, The Love of a Bad Man, has been published by Scribe. Yours truly will be doing MC duties on the night.

The first Noir at the Bar Melbourne event earlier this year had a great crowd and a great atmosphere and we are hoping this one will be the same. Kick off is 7pm. Entry is free, the drinks will be cheap & there will be books for sale. So, come and support some great authors and Melbourne’s coolest second hand bookshop. More details are available at this link. Hope to see you there.

August also sees the annual Melbourne Writers Festival (MWF) at which I’m involved in a number of events. I’ll be interviewing Tom and Meg Keneally about their historical crime fiction series of books, The Soldier’s Curse and The Unmourned, on Saturday September 2 at Dandenong Library and Sunday, September 4, at ACMI Cinema 1.… Read more

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Pulp Friday: ‘The godfather of the airport novel’

Have you ever noticed, whenever someone pens one of those articles listing the most influential books of the second half of the 20th century, how worthy the titles are? You’ll usually find books like Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird, Solzhenitsyn’s The Gulag Archipelago, Richard Bach’s Jonathan Livingston Seagull or E. M Forster’s Maurice, published in 1971, a year after the author’s death. But no one ever mentions influential books I suspect people were actually reading in large numbers, Peyton Place, Jacqueline Susan’s Valley of the Dolls, Mario Puzo’s The Godfather or the subject of today’s Pulp Friday offering, the novels of Harold Robbins.

Growing up in the 1970s, when popular culture was still mass rather than the niche individual choice it is increasingly now, Robbins was still a big deal. I don’t know about your household, but prominently placed amongst the Alistair Maclean and Ian Fleming thrillers, Desmond Morris’s The Naked Ape and Erich von Daniken’s 1968 sensation, Chariot of the Gods, were a large number of paperback books by Robbins.

Robbins has been called ‘the godfather of the airport novel’ and the ‘Onassis of supermarket literature’. He wasn’t a good writer by any stretch of the imagination but starting with his debut novel, Never Love A Stranger, in 1948, he produced fast paced, meaty narratives with larger than life characters, corporate executives and adventurers, accompanied by lashings of drama and explicit sex.… Read more

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Pre-orders open for The Obama Inheritance: Fifteen Stories of Conspiracy Noir

I’ll make this quick. Pre-orders are now open for an exciting new anthology, The Obama Inheritance: Fifteen Stories of Conspiracy Noir, out through the New York based independent publisher, Three Rooms Press, this October.

I reckon the wonderful cover, which I just love, tells you all you need to know about the book. Fifteen stories of pulpy goodness, featuring robots, lizard people, vigilante killers and various other bizarre creations riffing off the conspiracy theories association with the Obama presidency (although I believe the current occupant of the White House also gets a nod).

The anthology is edited by one of the hardest working men in crime fiction, Gary Phillips, critically acclaimed author of mystery and graphic novels, including Peepland, Violent Spring, and Warlord of Willow Ridge. It features stories by a host of talented writers, including big guns such as Walter Mosley and Robert Silverberg. I represent the Melbourne contingent, along with my friend and fellow scribe, Liam Jose, with a dystopian science fiction heist gone wrong tale called, ‘Sunburnt Country’.

Alll the pre-order details you need to know can be found at Three Rooms Press site here.

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