Category Archives: Noir fiction

Guest post: the indirect path to writing your book

It gives me great pleasure to welcome New York crime writer, Richie Narvaez, to Pulp Curry. Richie a friend. He is also a hell of a good crime writer. I loved his short story collection, Roachkiller and Other Stories, and I had the pleasure of reading a very early draft of the upcoming novel he is guest posting about today, Hipster Death Rattle, which is also great stuff. I don’t want to pre-empt Richie’s post, but Deathrattle is unique crime fiction take on the gentrification that have been sweeping New York. It drops from Down and Out Books in early March and you can pre-order it here.

You dream of writing a gritty noir but complete a cozy featuring fish detectives. Or you want to write a cozy but end up with a spy thriller featuring 0 cats. Writing is what happens while you’re busy making other plots. If you go after something too directly, if you have an object, an idea that you feel strongly about and you try to represent it as it feels in your head and beats in your chest, you will very often make a mush out of it. So sometimes you need to approach your object in the night like a thief, like a spy scaling a cliff face in order to sneak into a mountaintop stronghold.… 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

My top 10 reads of 2018

I reconciled myself long ago to the fact I will never get to the end of a year without thinking I have not read as much as I should have. That said, I have read some great books this year. Fiction and non-fiction, old books and new, in no particular order, here are my top ten reads for 2018.

Red Dragon, Thomas Harris

This year, I read a few bestsellers from the past to see if I can figure out what made them so successful, and this was my favourite. The book that introduced Hannibal Lector, it is a riveting rollercoaster ride into the serial killer mind. Beautifully written and acutely observed. Harris includes some incredible detail on forensics and police procedure without overdoing it. Red Dragon is the perfect mix of elevated airport novel and hardboiled crime story.

Twisted Clay, Frank Walford

Australian writer, Frank Walford’s 1933 account of a murderous young woman,  a pathological liar and sociopath, was banned in Australia until the late 1950s. The story, which contains patricide, sex work, suicide and the young female main character’s burgeoning awareness and enjoyment of her lesbian sexuality, is a wonderfully lurid read. One can only wonder what readers must have made of it in the 1930s. Not surprisingly, they seemed to like it as it was a bestseller in the UK and US, where it was published.… Read more

Nothing but one big shill #2

Yes, another post devoted  to shamelessly shilling my own stuff. Again.

Well, not just my own stuff.

First up, I was happy to learn that the anthology I contributed a story to, The Obama Inheritance: Fifteen Stories of Conspiracy Noir, published by the New York based independent publisher, Three Rooms Press, has just won the 2018 Anthony Award for best fiction anthology,

The Anthony Awards are literary awards for mystery writers presented at the annual Bouchercon World Mystery Convention in the US. They are named for Anthony Boucher (1911–1968), one of the founders of the Mystery Writers of America, and a pretty big deal.

The anthology contains 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), and was edited by one of the hardest working men in crime fiction, Gary Phillips, critically acclaimed author of mystery and graphic novels.

Anyway, if you have not already picked up the anthology, I reckon the news it has won an Anthony should be as good an incentive as you need to do so.

It features stories by a host of talented writers, including big guns such as Walter Mosley and Robert Silverberg.… Read more

Book review: Clarence Cooper Jr’s The Scene

San Francisco based crime writer Domenic Stansberry recently sent me a copy of a book he has just put out through his very cool looking small publisher, Molotov Editions. The book is a re-released edition ofThe Syndicate by a little known Black crime writer, Clarence Cooper Jr.

I hope to write about the Molotov Editions reprint of The Syndicate, the cover of which is included below, in a future post. For now, however, I want to talk about the Cooper novel I have read, The Scene, also published in 1960. And if The Scene is any guide I am pretty sure I will dig The Syndicate.

The book set in a nameless US city, and deals with the bleak, dead end lives of the junkies, prostitutes and criminals who populate an area of it, known as ‘the Scene’.

A myriad of characters shift in and out of the story: there’s Rudy Black, a ruthless, showy pimp and up and coming pusher, part of a network of dealers working for a mysterious criminal called ‘the Man’, who controls the flow of narcotics in the Scene: Black Bertha, who also deals to support her and her daughters but doesn’t use herself; and Miss Dalton, the Man’s loyal secretary.

The novel also focuses on two cops.… Read more