Tag Archives: Kings Cross: A Biography

My top fiction and non-fiction reads of 2014

Time for me to present Pulp Curry readers with the list of my best reads for 2014. As is customary, I will start off by admitting, yet again, I feel I have not read nearly as much as I should have. My reading this year has been dominated by books for work, including material for freelance articles and the various literary festival panels I’ve been involved in. A considerable amount of my attention has also been directed to reading related to the non-fiction book I have been co-editing, Beat Girls, Love Tribes and Real Cool Cats: Pulp Fiction and Youth Culture, 1950-1980, which is scheduled to be published in October 2015.

With all that said, here’s the top ten books I read in 2014. I’ve split my list in two this year – fiction and non-fiction.

My top fiction reads are as follows:

escape-dominique-manotti

Escape Dominique Manotti

I have long been interested in the political history in Italy in the seventies and eighties, the so-called ‘years of lead’, when left wing paramilitary groups and right wing extremists in the military and police were locked in a shadowy, violent conflict. Dominique Manotti’s Escape is set in the late eighties and deals with the aftermath of that conflict. Filippo is a common street hood that shares a prison cell with Carlos, a charismatic former Red Brigade member.… Read more

Pulp Friday: passion pits and twilight zones, Kings Cross pulp fiction

The Deserters“A startling and authentic story of wartime Sydney when the American ‘invasion’ turned Kings Cross into a passion pit of vice and black marketing.”

Earlier this week I reviewed Louis Nowra’s terrific social history Kings Cross A Biography for the Overland Journal website.

Kings Cross has always had a particular place in our popular imagination as Australia’s capital of sin, sleaze and crime.

The terrific 1995 television mini-series Blue Murder and the not-so-wonderful Underbelly: Razor and Underbelly: The Golden Mile all did their bit to maintain this unsavoury reputation.

In the sixties and early seventies, Kings Cross was also a favourite setting for locally published pulp novels.

As I have discussed many times on this site, pulp fiction is a warped reflection of mainstream society, its illicit desires, fears and fascinations. Thus it was with pulp’s depiction of the Cross as a virtual Sodom and Gomorrah of sex, gambling, crime and human depravity of every description.

Wild youth gangs, criminal syndicates, black magic, pulp took all of these and turned them into portable, pocket sized key pieces of key hole voyeurism. From a publishing perspective they sold a bomb to punters eager for vicarious thrills and a peek of the dark goings on in the Cross.

Nowra’s book didn’t touch on this this particular aspect of Kings Cross’s hold on our popular imagination.… Read more

Cross examinations: a review of Louis Nowra’s Kings Cross A Biography

KCIn the late eighties I visited Sydney with my girlfriend at the time. We stayed in a fleabag hotel in the middle of Kings Cross, walked around the neon-lit streets at night and bought a bag of marijuana off an emaciated dealer in an alley next to a strip joint. It turned out to be mostly dried parsley.

Not much of a connection with Australia’s capital of sleaze and sin, I know. But what my real life interactions lacked, imagination made up for, fuelled by Kings Cross’s place in Australian popular culture.

One of my favourite fictional private investigators, Cliff Hardy, the creation of Sydney author Peter Corris, has done his fair share of time knocking around the Cross. The terrific 1995 television mini-series Blue Murder and the not-so-wonderful Underbelly: Razor and Underbelly: The Golden Mile also did their bit to maintain its unsavoury reputation.

You can read the rest of this piece on the Overland website here.