Tag Archives: Bantam Books

Pulp Friday: Brighton Rock

Today’s Pulp Friday is linked to my recent post on Nick Triplow’s Getting Carter: Ted Lewis & the Birth of Brit Noir, an upcoming biography of the author of the classic crime novel, Jack’s Return Home, which you can read here.

One of the aspects of the book I enjoyed was how Triplow weaved into his narrative a discussion of the cultural touchstones that would’ve influenced Lewis as he was growing up in the 1950s and 1960s. As Triplow makes clear, much of this was American, such things pulp novels and film noir. But among the local influences name checked by Triplow is Graham Greene’s novel, Brighton Rock, filmed in 1947 by John Boutling and starring a young Richard Attenborough as the vicious hoodlum, Pinkie Brown. A screen adaption shifting the story to the early 1960s and making Pinkie a moped driving mod was released in 2010.

The novel, which arguably made Greene’s name as a writer, was first published in the UK by Penguin in 1938 and has been republished numerous times. In addition to the classic orange Penguin cover, the book also received a more pulpy treatment by overseas publishers. One of these includes Australian pulp publisher Horwitz Publications, who released the edition above in 1961. This is one of a number of Penguin books republished by Horwitz, which the Australian company jazzed up with one its trademark lurid covers.… Read more

Pulp Friday: The Day of the Locust

Day of the LocustMost people are familiar with the 1975 John Schlesinger film, The Day of the Locust, starring Donald Sutherland, Burgess Meredith and Karen Black.

But long before it appeared in cinemas, The Day of the Locust was an influential novel by US author, Nathanael West. Today’s Pulp Friday offering is the 1957 edition of the novel by Bantam Books. I have no idea who did the stunning cover image for this paperback version.

Both the novel and the film are set during the Great Depression and focus on a young artist who comes to Hollywood and is soon sucked into a nightmare world of hustlers, struggling actors and actresses and various other low life denizens on the fringes of the movie business. It is often viewed as one of the best books written on the underbelly of the American dream.

Nathanael knew of what he was writing about in The Day of the Locust, having worked for a time as a screenwriter for RKO pictures.

Pulp Friday: The Zebra-Striped Hearse

The Zebra Stripped Hearse

To celebrate the 100th birthday of iconic crime author, Ross Macdonald, today’s Pulp Friday offering is the stunning cover of the 1964 Bantam edition of The Zebra Striped Hearse.

The Zebra Striped Hearse was one of eighteen novels written by Macdonald, a pseudonym for the Canadian writer Kenneth Miller, to feature the private investigator, Lew Archer. The story, first published in 1962, is a decided bent tale of murder and potential multiple identities, set amid the supposed idyllic suburbs of California.

Since his death in 1983, Macdonald’s fame as a writer of hard boiled private investigator tales has tales has reduced somewhat. That’s a pity because in books like The Zebra Striped Hearse, Macdonald, through Archer, interrogated the sin and depravity that existed in the suburbs of San Francisco and Los Angeles.

I have no idea who did the striking cover to this book and would be keen to hear from any Pulp Curry readers who do.

Pulp Friday: prison pulp

The Ninth Hour“Gripping novel about a jailbreak – The bloody, death filled minutes while a murderous convict holds all the state of Massachusetts at bay.”

Jail breaks, prison life, men and woman wrongly convicted and languishing in hell hole jails, all these were popular themes in cinema in the fifties, sixties and early seventies. They were also popular topics for pulp fiction.

Exhibit A is this selection of prison pulps from my collection.

Between them, these books cover off on all the main themes associated with prison pulp.

There are tension filled jail breaks in Billy Braggs and The Ninth Hour (“Three desperate prisoners, armed with smuggled .45’s, were holed up in the Isolation Cell Block, with two guards as hostages”).

Wrongfully convicted men feature in The Fall of the Sparrow, Headed For the Hearse (“His address was Death Row and his lease was up in six days…”), and Patricia Highsmith’s The Glass Cell.

The travails of women behind bars, particularly their sensationalised sexual exploits, are the subject of the two Australian pulps represented below, The Lights of Skaro and Queen Rat (“From behind bars Dawn Arness ruled the lives of prisoners and guards alike. She was Queen Rat”).

Prison was particularly suited to my favourite sub-genre of pulp fiction, tabloid-style reporting dressed up as serious sociological inquiry.… Read more

Pulp Friday: Opium Flower by Dan Cushman

“They were out to hook the whole world with the filthy stuff – Ryan had to stop them even if it meant losing the most luscious play-mate in the Orient.”

There’s pulp covers and then there’s pulp covers and I reckon this one is a beauty.

It perfectly combines two of my main obsessions, sixties pulp paperback art and crime fiction set in Asia, in this case Laos.

Opium Flower was published by Bantam Books in 1963. Author, Dan Cushman, was a regular pulp writer for US outfits such as Bantam and Gold Medal, where he penned tough guy pulp stories. Many of them, including Jewel of the Java Sea (1951) and Port Orient (1955) were set in Asia.

The back cover blurb for Opium Flower is great:

“Opium. Somehow it was getting back to the State. From Harlem to Venice City, the hopheads were practically floating in it. Ryan was the only man who could stop the flow at its deadly source – Laos.

All he had to do was become the second son to the biggest opium dealer in the world, endure the most insidious tortures ever devised by man and fight his way out of the dirtiest double-cross ever invented.

If he survived, it was worth every excruciating minute.Read more