Category Archives: Chester Himes

Pulp Friday: the pulp of John D MacDonald

The Empty Trap popular Library 1957“He Sold His Soul For Another Man’s Wife.”

This weeks Pulp Friday is a selection of covers from the prolific US thriller writer, John D MacDonald.

MacDonald got his start writing for pulp magazines in the late forties, then rode the paperback boom that occurred in the fifties and early sixties. He was the author of over sixties books, as well as numerous short stories and articles.

He is probably best know for creating the fictional private investigator Travis McGee, who featured in 21 of McDonald’s books.

A number of his books have been adapted for film and television. His novel The Executioners was filmed as Cape Fear, starring Gregory Peck, Robert Mitchum and Polly Bergen, in 1962, and again by Martin Scorsese in 1991. One of the McGee books, Darker Than Amber, was made into a film of the same name, starring Rod Taylor, in 1970.

The following selection of covers spans the late fifties to the early seventies and include many of the Fawcett Gold Medal editions of McDonald’s work, as well as the UK Pan paperback additions.

Enjoy.

April-Evil3 You Live Once Fawcett Gold medal 1957

Cape Fear Coronet Books 1960

Death Trap Pan 1958

The Only Girl in the Game Fawcett Gold Medal 1960

The Only Girl in the Game Pan Books 1960

One Monday We Killed then all Fawcett Gold medal 1961

On The Run Gold Medal Books 1963

The Drowner Fawcett Gold medal 1963

The Quick Red Fox Pan Books 1964

Dress Her in Indigo GM version Fawcett gold medal 1969

Darker than amber. Pan Books 1966jpeg

The Damned Fawcett Gold medal

The Neon Jungle FG medal 1988

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The death of a bookshop: a tribute to Melbourne’s Kill City Books

KC 4

I love poking around in second-hand bookshops. The more disorganised and dishevelled, the better. I can’t remember the last time I found one with a curtained off section where they stashed the adult stuff, the pulp fiction and true crime, but those ones were best of all.

It’s always sad to hear about the closure of a second handbook shop and they’ve been closing with alarming frequency in Melbourne over the last few years.

The latest casualty is Flinders Books, which had operated out of the basement at 119 Swanston Street, for 18 years. Before that it had reportedly been a trading card shop, and going back even further, a rest and recreation area for military personnel after World War II.

Basement Books, located at 342 Flinders Street is, as far as I know, the last second-hand bookshop in the Melbourne CBD.

The reasons behind the closure are nothing new: changing book buying habits, including the rise of e-books, coupled with a massive rent increase, all of which, according to the owner, made the business impossible to sustain at its current location.

As if the end of a good second-hand bookstore is not sad enough, the passing of Flinders Books has a wider historical significance. For the last eight years of its existence it also hosted the remnants of Kill City Books, once Melbourne’s premier bookshop specialising in crime fiction and true crime.… Read more

Pulp Friday: interview with Iain Mcintyre, author, Sticking it to the Man!

Today’s Pulp Friday is a fascinating interview with Melbourne-based social historian Iain McIntyre, author of a new book, Sticking it to the Man! Pop, Protest and Black Fiction of the Counterculture, 1964-75.

Sticking it to the Man! is a roller coaster ride through the lava lit streets of the counter-cultural pulp fiction of the late sixties and early seventies, a time when hippies, bikers, swingers and revolutionaries replaced cops and private detectives as pulp’s stable characters.

The book contains 130 reviews of pulps from the period covering all the major sub-themes: drug use, bikers, sleaze, blaxsploitation, hippies and dystopian science fiction. It also includes the covers in all their dog eared, price marked glory. It’s through books like this that the hidden history of pulp fiction is gradually pieced together. Sticking it to the Man! is a must read for every serious pulp fiction afficiando.

You can buy Sticking it to the Man! here. Copies will also be on sale at the launch of Crime Factory’s Hard Labour anthology, this coming Monday, October 8. Iain will also be talking about his book at the launch.

What is it about pulp fiction between 1964 and 1975, the period covered in your book that you find so interesting?

I’ve long had an interest in troublemakers, militants and odd-balls, and this was a period in which those normally relegated to the margins were able to have a major impact on culture and society.… Read more

Pulp Friday: A Rage in Harlem

Today’s Pulp Friday offering is A Rage in Harlem by Chester Himes.

Himes is a difficult author to categorise. He’s wrote a number of excellent, fast paced, darkly humorous crime novels, of which the so-called “Harlem Domestic” series featuring the black police detectives ‘Coffin’ Ed Jones and ‘Grave Digger’ Johnson, are the best known.

He also wrote a large number of short stories, as well as polemical and literary works focusing on his experience of racism in the US.

Born into a poor family in Kansas in 1909, by the age of 19 he’d been sentence to 25 years in jail for armed robbery. He started to write in jail. Upon his parole he made attempts to start a writing career, financing his efforts through a myriad of jobs. But success eluded him until the early fifties when he moved to France, where the translations of his early novels had met with critical acclaim.

A Rage In Harlem was the first of Himes’s seven novels featuring ‘Coffin’ and ‘Grave Digger’, who spent as much time racism in the police force as they did crime in Harlem. The story revolves around a man who scraps together money to pay for an abortion for his girlfriend. Everything goes terribly wrong, however, and she disappears with the funds.… Read more