Tag Archives: Malcolm Braly

Interview: New Jersey crime writer, Wallace Stroby

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Wallace Stroby was an award-winning journalist who quit his job as an editor at New Jersey’s Star-Ledger of Newark newspaper, to write crime fiction full time. A life long New Jersey native, he is the author of six books, of which his debut, The Barb Wire Kiss, was a finalist for the 2004 Barry Award for best first novel. His last three books, Cold Shot to the Heart, Kings of Midnight, Shoot the Woman First, feature the female professional criminal character, Crissa Stone. This is an edited version of an interview, which I conducted at Noir Con 2014 in Philadelphia, that originally appeared in issue 17 of Crime FactoryHis latest Crissa Stone book The Devil’s Share, is out now.

Let’s start of with your recent books featuring the character of Crissa Stone. What was the inspiration behind writing these?

I always wanted to write a book from the point of a view of a career criminal. In my third novel, Gone ‘Til November, half of the book was from the point of view of an ageing black hit man but the main character was actually a woman, the only female sheriff’s deputy in a small town, a woman in a man’s world and I liked that idea. So coming off Gone ‘Til November I wanted to combine those two and do a story about a career criminal who was a woman in a man’s world.… Read more

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:

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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: Shake Him Till He Rattles

Shake Him Till He rattles 2Drifting between a very cool girl and a very warm one… A funky nighttime love story, so vivid you can taste it, hear it, feel it…

Today’s Pulp Friday is a story of sexual jealously, drug use, lost opportunities and jazz, set in the San Francisco suburb of North Beach, ground zero of the West Coast beat scene in the early sixties.

Fawcett Gold Medal first published Shake Him Till He Rattles in 1963. The story centres on a horn-playing beatnik called Cabiness, the target of some very unwelcome attention on the part of a junkie vice cop, Carver. Not only does Carver have it in for jazz musicians, he believes Cabiness is a major player in the North Beach drug scene and wants to turn him into his snitch.

Cabiness is not a major criminal. He’s not a major anything, really. His only aim in life is to “smoke a little pot and blow my horn”, much to the chagrin of his girlfriend, Jean, who is getting tired of the scene. She hassles him about wasting his talent. To which he replies: “Music is just music until you start trying to sell it; then it changes in a lot of ways. A lot of things change. You end up with a product….… Read more

Pulp Friday: On The Yard

On the YardOn The Yard by Malcolm Braly picks up on two themes I’ve examined in recent Pulp Friday posts.

The first is prison pulp, in this instance, written by someone who actually did time. A lot.

The second is the blurred line, particularly evident in the sixties and early seventies, between pulp fiction and literature.

On The Yard First published in 1967. The above is from the Fawcett Crest Books edition published a year later in 1968.

On The Yard, which is on my TBR pile, is the story of two characters, Chilly Willy, who heads the prison’s black market in drugs and sex, and of Paul, who is in jail for murdering his wife.

It’s generally seen critics as vivid depiction of penitentiary life, by a writer who spent many years in prisons, including Folsom and San Quentin. The New York Review of Books called it “arguably the finest work of literature ever to emerge from a US prison”.

Braly wrote three other novels and a biography, False Starts: A Memoir of San Quentin and other Prisons. This detailed his slow decent into crime from relatively well off beginnings. He was never a major criminal, most of his prison sentences arose from bullshit jobs. He once robbed a dentist of eleven dollars, which he subsequently lost escaping.… Read more