A few thoughts on the passing of Peter Corris, the father of modern Australian crime fiction

I suspect a lot of fans of contemporary Oz crime fiction, and more than a few of its current practitioners, may have forgotten or perhaps don’t even know the debt we all owe to Sydney based crime writer Peter Corris, who died last night at the age of 76.

I have written a bit about Corris on this site and others. And given Pulp Curry originally started off wholly dedicated to crime fiction, I wanted to make a few observations about an author who has given me a lot of pleasure, as well as being incredibly influential on Australian crime fiction.

Corris’ debut novel, The Dying Trade, was published in 1980 (something must have been in the water that year because it also saw the publication of Grabrielle Lord’s important first novel, Fortress). The Dying Trade introduced the hardscrabble Sydney private investigator, Cliff Hardy.

Hardy is an ex-insurance claims investigator and army veteran, who served during the so-called “Malaya Emergency” in the 1950s when Australian troops were brought in to help the British control that country’s growing communist insurgency. In many respects, Hardy was typical of the breed of PI characters that were popular in the US, stretching right back to the work of Raymond Chandler. He liked a drink.… Read more

Share

Pulp Friday: Cuba – Sugar, Sex, and Slaughter

Earlier this year I posted in my semi-regular Pulp Friday column on Pollen’s Women, a book by Robert Deis and Wyatt Doyle that examined the career of Samson Pollen, an illustrator for some of the roughly 160 men’s pulp magazines that blossomed on American newsstands in the 1950s and 1960s (you can find my piece here). These magazines combined brilliant, often over the top illustrations, with hard-hitting fiction and lurid ‘non-fiction’ exposes of various mid-century cultural obsessions.

Chief among these obsessions was, as these magazines depicted it, the nefarious and barbaric activities of the various domestic and international communist minions the United States was then locked in global struggle with. A variant of this particular men’s pulp magazine enthusiasm is the subject of Deis and Doyle’s latest book, Cuba: Sugar, Sex, and Slaughter, which examines the way these magazines depicted pre and post revolutionary Cuba.

I recall, while working as journalist in Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia in the 1990s, many locals fondly remembering the assistance provided to them by Cuba, particular the medical doctors who were sent to these and other fraternal socialist allies in large numbers. Of course, I also realise that many Cubans do not look upon their country’s post-war history so fondly. The repressive nature of aspects of Castro’s rule can also be attested to by any number of intellectuals and the many openly gay Cubans who have been incarcerated by the regime.… Read more

Share

Book review: Beautiful Revolutionary

I first came across Melbourne author Laura Elizabeth Woollett’s work when she participated in a Noir at Bar event I helped organise last year. That night she read one of the tales from her short story collection, The Love of a Bad Man. It is tempting to view her debut novel, Beautiful Revolutionary, as an extension of that collection – twelve terrific stories told from the point of view of the lovers and wives of various bad men in history. Indeed, if I remember correctly, one of the pieces in The Love of a Bad Man concerned the Reverend Jim Jones, a very bad man and the central focus of Beautiful Revolutionary.

Woollett’s novel spans the period of history from the assassination of Bobby Kennedy in June 1968 to the events that occurred in November 1978, when over 900 people died from drinking poison at the People’s Temple Agricultural Project, better known as ‘Jonestown’ in Guyana, founded by cult leader, Jim Jones. When I was younger, I remember Jonestown being described as a mass suicide but, as relatives of the dead have since pointed out, it was really a mass murder, as all but a few drank the poison under duress.

Although we never hear the story from his point of view, the book revolves around Jones, a self proclaimed socialist saviour, but also a sexual predator, quack faith healer and an increasingly unhinged demagogue.… Read more

Share

‘It was never meant to be a game’: my monograph on Norman Jewison’s Rollerball

I have been pre-occupied with my Phd and various other commitments, so I’ve been a little bit slow off the mark to publicise my latest book, a monograph on Norman Jewison’s 1975 dystopian science fiction classic, Rollerball, out now on various platforms in the US, UK and Australia, through Auteur Publishing.

The book originated out of my curiosity to see whether I had it in me to write 40k based on a single film. The film I chose, in consultation with the publisher, was Rollerball. Only you can be the judge as to how good a job I have done, but I’ll let you all in on the first rule of writing a film monograph, make sure you like the film because you not only have to watch it numerous times but immerse yourself in everything to do with it.

I have always like Rollerball, ever since first seeing it twenty years ago. But I didn’t realise until I got stuck into researching the film for this book, just what a good viewing experience it still is and what a chilling dystopian vision it remains.

Rollerball depicts a future dominated by anonymous corporations and their executive elite, in which all individual effort and aggressive emotions are subsumed into a horrifically violent global sport, remains critically overlooked.… Read more

Share

Girl Gangs, Biker Boys & Real Cool Cats at the Bendigo Writers Festival

I am thrilled to be taking part in the 2018 Bendigo Writers Festival. The Festival, which takes place from August 10 to 12, is one of my favourite local writers festivals.

First up, I’ll be talking all things pulp fiction and the book I co-edited, Girl Gangs, Biker Boys & Real Cool Cats: Pulp Fiction & Youth Culture, 1950-1980, with fellow pop culture fiend, John Richards, at the La Trobe Art Institute, from 10am on Saturday, August 11. Copies of the book will also be for sale at the Festival.

On the Friday morning, August 10, from 9.30am to 12.30pm, I’ll be running a ‘Crime Starter’ workshop for new and emerging crime writers . I’ll cover the elements of a thrilling crime read and the rules of the genre, as well as providing tips on how to push through blockages and problem passages in your manuscript.

I’ll also be taking part in the festival debate ‘You Can Judge A Book By Its Genre’, with a group of talented writers.

So if you are in Bendigo or its environs and want to come to any of the events, grab a copy of the Girl Gangs book, or just say hello, it would be great to see you.

The full program for the Bendigo Writers Festival is available here.Read more

Share