Category Archives: Scripts Publications

Melbourne Writers Festival: Adrian McKinty & Australia’s pulp history

GoneThe Melbourne Writers Festival is upon us and I’ve got a a few slots in the program I wanted to pull on your coats about.

This coming Wednesday, August 27, I’ll be in conversation with crime writer, Adrian McKinty at St Kilda Library. I have written a bit about McKinty on this site, including reviews of his books Falling Glass, and his Shane Duffy trilogy, The Cold, Cold Ground, I Hear the Sirens in the Streets, and In the Morning I’ll Be Gone,  and his latest stand alone, The Sun Is God, and I’m looking forward to talking with him in person.

It’ll be a pretty relaxed affair and it is free. Proceedings will kick off at 6.30pm.

Also, join me on August 30 at the Ian Potter Centre, NGV Australia, Federation Square, for a walk down the dimly lit back alleys of the lost world of Australian pulp paperback publishing.

For a few decades in the second half of last century, Australia’s pulp scene burned brightly with tales of jaded gumshoes, valiant servicemen and women, sexually bored housewives, jazzed up beatniks, daring spies, and violent youth gangs.

It was disposable fiction, designed for a coat pocket or bag, to be read quickly, and discarded.… Read more

Announcing Beat Girls, Love Tribes and Real Cool Cats: Pulp Fiction and Youth Culture, 1950 – 1980

Happening At san Remo Pyramid Books 1967Regular Pulp Curry readers will be aware of my deep interest in pulp fiction. What you won’t know, is I’ve been working for a while now on a pulp fiction related book with another Melbourne writer called Iain McIntyre.

I’m thrilled to announce this book, currently titled Beat Girls, Love Tribes and Real Cool Cats: Pulp Fiction and Youth Culture, 1950 – 1980, will be published by Verse Chorus Press in October 2015.

The book will be the definitive look at youth and counter cultural pulp fiction from Australia, the United States and the UK. It will feature contributions from over twenty writers and includes reviews, feature articles and author interviews. These will cover all aspects of youth and counter cultural related pulp fiction, starting with juvenile delinquency and gang pulp in the fifties, Beats and bohemians in the early sixties, to hippies, bikers, musicians, Mods, punks, and everything in between.

The book will also feature a large selection of covers from the books concerned.

Some of the pulp writers we cover you might know. But there’ll be a lot more you probably haven’t heard of. One thing we can guarantee is that the words “guilty pleasure” will not be mentioned once to describe their work.

This is a book about mainstream society’s obsession with the notion of out of control youth, and the pulp fiction that capitalised on the fascination, fears and desires associated with it.… Read more

In search of a proletarian James Bond

17-moments-of-spring-1

Still from the 1973 Soviet TV series, Seventeen Moments of Spring, based on the novel of the same name by Yulian Semyonov.

A few weeks ago I posted on one of the stranger cultural artefacts to come out of Australian pulp publishing in the sixties, the spy thriller Avakoum Zahov vs 07 by Bulgarian author, Andrei Gulyashki.

Spies first came to prominence as popular culture figures during World War One, it was the first Bond novel, Casino Royale, published in 1953, that really kick-started the modern fascination with spies. These days Bond may come across as massively cliched, but in the fifties and sixties, he was the epitome of sexual and social permissiveness, licensed to kill and swing. The casual sex, alcohol consumption, fine living and travel to exotic destinations were all potent symbols of the West’s economic and cultural affluence in the sixties.

Not only were the Soviet authorities aware of the global popularity of James Bond, they saw him as a major propaganda coup for the West. Fleming’s books were banned and Soviet newspapers lambasted the secret agent as a sadist and a Nazi.

And while Soviet culture never offered up anything as glitzy or lurid as Bond, it nonetheless produced its own fictional spies. The most infamous of these was Avakoum Zahov who featured in a series of books by Bulgarian author, Andrei Gulyashki, one of which was released in 1967 by local pulp outfit, Scripts Publications.… Read more

Pulp Friday: Avakoum Zahov Vs 07 and Soviet spy fiction

Avakoum Zahov versus 07 cover

“A battle to the death between two crack Secret Agents of East and West!”

This week’s Pulp Friday is one of the strangest cultural artefacts to come out of Australian pulp publishing in the sixties, the spy thriller Avakoum Zahov vs 07 by Bulgarian author, Andrei Gulyashki.

While spies first came to prominence as popular culture figures during World War One, it was the first Bond novel, Casino Royale, published in 1953, that really kick-started the modern fascination with spies. A host of well known authors as well as a legion of lesser know writers and pulp imitators, all followed in Bond’s wake.

These days it’s easy to view Bond as little more than a clotheshorse with a few snappy lines of dialogue and a lot of high-tech gadgets, facing off against the latest embodiment of the West’s global fears.

But in the fifties and sixties, Bond was a blunt weapon in dinner suit whose sole purpose was to smash the West’s enemies. He was also the epitome of sexual and social permissiveness, licensed to kill and swing. The casual sex, alcohol consumption, fine living and travel to exotic destinations were all potent symbols of the West’s economic and cultural affluence in the sixties.

Not only were the Soviet authorities aware of the global popularity of James Bond, they saw him as a major propaganda coup for the West.… Read more

Pulp Friday: Wild Beat, a tribute to Australian pulp writer Carl Ruhen, 1937-2013

The Rebels

Most people think of pulp publishing as American. But for several decades in the second half of the last century, Australia had a significant pulp paperback industry that produced a large range of popular fiction.

By the mid-to-late sixties, Horwitz, Australia’s largest pulp publisher, was producing up to 16 titles a month with initial print runs of 20,000 copies. Black magic, hippies, juvenile delinquents, spies, bored suburban housewives looking for thrills, and evil Japanese and German prison guards – nothing was off limits. Local pulp publishers pounced on mainstream society’s fantasies, fears and obsessions and turned them into cheap, disposable paperback thrills.

Carl Ruhen was at the centre of this industry and continued to ply his trade as a writer until the late eighties. AustLit, the Australian Literature Resource database, credits him with 78 books. He also penned numerous short stories and magazine articles.

On November 28 last year, Carl Ruhen died after a long illness, aged 76.

I’ve long been aware of Ruhen’s work. Unfortunately, I never met him. I found out about his passing in late December when an acquaintance who’d been in sporadic contact with Ruhen emailed me with the news. The only mention I’ve been able to find of his death was a short notice in the Sydney Morning Herald, dated December 2, 2013.

Read more