Category Archives: New English Library

Pulp Friday: Teenage jungles – expose pulp about youth subcultures

The new book I have co-edited, Girl Gangs, Biker Boys and Real Cool Cats: Pulp Fiction and Youth Culture, 1950-1980 is about many things.

It depicts the insatiable energy of post war youth and their desire to find expression through style, fashion, music and language. It is also about the just as insatiable appetite of pulp paperback publishers to hype and exploit youth culture for cheap thrills and cheap paperback sales.

One of the decisions that my co-editor, Iain McIntyre and I faced early on in putting the book together was whether or not to include the large body of nonfiction expose pulp about youth culture. For reasons of space, in the end, we decided against including these books. But they remain one of my favourite strands of pulp fiction.

These books, which were a major sub-genre of pulp from the 1950s to the early 1970s, were marketed as timely, hard hitting, insider accounts or journalistic exposes of various social issues and trends. They were factual only in the most generous sense of the word, usually taking as their starting point the latest public sensation or tabloid headline. And, more often than not, their target was the so called goings on of out of the control young people. In colourful language and with lurid, highly sexualised covers, these books capitalised on mainstream fears, concerns and, as was often the case, fascinations with young people and their activities.Read more

Launch of Girl Gangs, Biker Biker Boys & Real Cool Cats: Pulp Fiction & Youth Culture, 1950-1980

Thanks to all those who came out on Monday for the launch of Girl Gangs, Biker Biker Boys & Real Cool Cats: Pulp Fiction & Youth Culture, at Grub Street Bookshop in Fitzroy. A fine time was had by all ushering the book into the world.

The book is the first comprehensive account of how the rise of postwar youth culture was depicted in mass-market pulp fiction. It is the perfect Christmas present for that hard to buy for family member or friend.

Melbourne folk can buy copies of Girl Gangs, Biker Boys, and Real Cool Cats at Grub Street Bookshop, Brunswick Bound bookshop and Sun Books in Yarraville, with other locations to follow soon.

You can order the book online from the following places:

From the publisher, PM Press, here

From Amazon

From Book Depository.

From Booktopia

From Angus and Robertson Online

From Waterstones

Folks in the US who have pre-ordered have started receiving the book. Those in the UK will have to wait a little longer, probably until later in December, early January, to receive their copy.

Those of you who have the book and like it, please don’t forget to spread the word, including rating it on Goodreads and Amazon. If you work in a library, it would be great if you could order the book in.… Read more

Pulp Friday: British horror pulp

Halloween approaches and, as has been my habit over the last couple of years, I want to mark the occasion with a bit of pulp. Horror pulp, actually. British horror pulp, to be exact.

American horror pulp got a bit of love on this site a little while ago, when I reviewed Grady Hendrix’s Paperbacks From Hell: The Twisted History of ‘70s and ‘80s Horror Fiction, a history of American horror from the 1970 and 1980s.

But I reckon the Brits have always done horror pulp really well. And, if you want proof, feast your eyes on the wonderful selection of British horror pulp from the 1960s and 1970s, all sourced from my collection, including a couple of ultra rare Hammer paperback film tie-ins I own.

Enjoy Halloween.

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

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