Category Archives: Australian noir

Blowback: late 1960s and 1970s pulp and popular fiction about the Vietnam War

If you are still on the fence about purchasing a copy of my new book, Sticking it to the Man: Revolution and the Counterculture in Pulp and Popular Fiction, 1950 to 1980, the site CrimeReads is running a couple of extracts from the book. The first is my piece, ‘Blowback: late 1960s and 1970s pulp and popular fiction about the Vietnam War’.

The conflict in Vietnam cast a long shadow over pulp and popular fiction in the late 1960s and the 1970s. Vietnam veterans were hunted by small town redneck police in David Morrell’s 1972 novel, First Blood, dealt drugs in Vern E Smith’s The Jones Men, and staged an abortive bank heist in Dog Day Afternoon, both published in 1974. In the Lone Wolf series ex-New York cop and Vietnam veteran, Burt Wulff mounted a fourteen-book battle from 1973 to 1975 against the drug dealing criminal organisation, ‘The Network’, in which he treated the streets of America’s major cities as an extension of jungles of Southeast Asia. Vietnam was the training ground for many of the characters that populated men’s adventure and crime pulp in the 1970s. More broadly, Vietnam’s traumatic impact on American society would become a cypher through which pulp and popular fiction name checked cultural fragmentation, growing disillusionment with the American dream, dishonest and unaccountable government and corporations, and the power of the military industrial complex.… Read more

2019 mid-summer reading report back

Summer is the one time of the year I am able find a decent amount of time to read. And, despite going full bore on my PhD at present, this year has, thankfully, been no different. Here is a very brief mid-summer reading report back.

The Real Lolita, Sarah Weinman

I have to fess up to not having read Vladimir Nabokov’s novel, Lolita, or seen either of the films based on it (I have Stanley Kubrick’s 1962 version and, having read The Real Lolita, want to see it). This didn’t stop me from devouring Weinman’s book. The Real Lolita has two threads. The first deals with the 1948 abduction of an eleven-year-old New Jersey girl, Sally Horner. The second looks at the torturous process by which Nabokov created what is his best-known work, the story of a middle-aged literature professor and his obsession and, eventually, sexual relationship with a 12-year-old girl, a story which Weinman contends Nabokov partly based on the Horner case.

Weinman painstakingly recreates the circumstances of Horner’s abduction and sexual grooming by a much older man, and the lengthy police investigation into her disappearance. It is fascinating, at times, horrific stuff and she puts it together brilliantly. I found the second strand concerning Nabokov less satisfying. … Read more

A sit down with the Godfather: an interview with Peter Corris

As promised in my recent piece to mark the passing of Australian crime writer, Peter Corris, it gives me great pleasure to post a terrific, in-depth interview with the author that appeared in issue 14 of  the now defunct online journal, Crime Factory, in September 2013.The interview was conducted by avid crime reader and regular Crime Factory contributor, Andrew Prentice.

Crime Factory: Your pre-writing career was academia and journalism, wasn’t it?

Peter Corris: Yes

Where did the shift take place into writing novels?

I was working at the National Times when the first of the Hardy books came out, in 1980. I was the literary editor, sending the books out, doing the reviews, and also doing some interviewing pieces, sports people, politicians…and the first book was a success, very well reviewed.

That was The Dying Trade?

That’s the one. And I’d already finished the second one because I enjoyed doing the first one so much, and had started a third one, and well, the ball just got rolling, even though it took about 5 years for the first one to get published. I gave up the journalism and was bringing in enough from the books and writing short stories to get going. I should add I had a working wife as well, which was helpful.… Read more

A few thoughts on the passing of Peter Corris, the father of modern Australian crime fiction

I suspect a lot of fans of contemporary Oz crime fiction, and more than a few of its current practitioners, may have forgotten or perhaps don’t even know the debt we all owe to Sydney based crime writer Peter Corris, who died last night at the age of 76.

I have written a bit about Corris on this site and others. And given Pulp Curry originally started off wholly dedicated to crime fiction, I wanted to make a few observations about an author who has given me a lot of pleasure, as well as being incredibly influential on Australian crime fiction.

Corris’ debut novel, The Dying Trade, was published in 1980 (something must have been in the water that year because it also saw the publication of Grabrielle Lord’s important first novel, Fortress). The Dying Trade introduced the hardscrabble Sydney private investigator, Cliff Hardy.

Hardy is an ex-insurance claims investigator and army veteran, who served during the so-called “Malaya Emergency” in the 1950s when Australian troops were brought in to help the British control that country’s growing communist insurgency. In many respects, Hardy was typical of the breed of PI characters that were popular in the US, stretching right back to the work of Raymond Chandler. He liked a drink.… Read more

Continental Crime: A YouTube reading

In late 2017, LA based author, Eric Beetner and I discussed doing a crime reading reading on YouTube to mark the release of novels we both had coming out earlier this year through the same publisher, Down and Out Books. The idea sort of grew from there to encompass an author either based in or who had written fiction from at least one country in continent on the earth (with the exception of Antartica).

In addition to myself reading from Gunshine State and Eric reading from his novel, Rum Runners, the list includes Matthew IdenSteph Broadribb, Mike NicolElka Ray and Claudia Piñeiro.

For reasons which are obvious in retrospect, but didn’t seem so at the time, putting this together was not as easy as we thought it would be and took a long longer than we planned. In particularly, my take home lesson is crime fiction from Latin and South American is really underexposed outside that region.

Anyway we decided to call our YouTube reading Continental Crime. Hopefully you find a new voice you like and get exposed to the wonderful world of reading books from different cultures. A big thanks to Eric’s editing skills for pulling the final product together.

Enjoy.