Category Archives: Pulp fiction in the 70s and 80s

Pulp Friday: Paul Bishop & 52 Weeks: 52 Western Novels

Today I’m happy to host friend of pulp fiction lovers everywhere, Paul Bishop, to talk about a project he has been working on,52 Weeks • 52 Western Novels.

I have always been interested in the contradiction between how critically marginalised as a genre the Western is (and, arguably, always has been), compared with popular they continue to be. This is the case not just in the US but in Australia. The only remaining Australian pulp publisher still in business, Cleveland Publications, publishes Westerns. And go into any second hand bookstore, especially in regional Australia, and you are likely to find large a large number of westerns. That’s if they haven’t been snapped up, as was the case in a regional second hand bookshop I visited recently.

Anyway, Paul and his co-editor Scott Harris have done something too few people who examine pulp fiction and write about it, do – they actually read the novels and not just focus on the covers. The result is a wonderfully eclectic, in-depth look at the genre that is Western pulp fiction. The Western is an area of pulp fiction I have not really examined in any detail on my site, so I’m thrilled to have Paul here.

First up, well done on the book.Read more

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

Please join me on Monday, December 4, for the launch of Girl Gangs, Biker Boys & Real Cool Cats: Pulp Fiction & Youth Culture, 1950 to 1980, a book I have co-edited with my friend, Iain McIntyre.

The launch will take place from 6.30pm at one of Melbourne’s coolest second hand bookshops, Grub Street Bookshop, 379 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy. We’ll be doing live readings from some of the pulp novels included in our book. There will be cheap drinks available and, of course, you can buy a copy of the book.

Girl Gangs, Biker and Real Cool Cats is the result of four years work. It is the first comprehensive account of how the rise of postwar youth culture was depicted in Australian, American, and British mass market pulp fiction. It includes approximately 400 covers, many of them very rare, and 70 in-depth author interviews, illustrated biographies and articles regarding authors novelists who exploited and celebrated juvenile delinquents, beatniks, mods, bikers, hippies, skinheads, punks and a host of other subcultures.

I am really proud of this book and would love it if you could join Iain and I to launch it. This book will have very limited distribution in Australia, so for Melbourne folks, this is your ideal chance to snag a copy.

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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