I know that this site has not been getting quite as much attention from me as usual over the last year. This is largely because I have been so busy with various book projects. A quick update on these might be in order.
Horwitz Publications, Pulp Fiction & the Rise of the Australian Paperback originated in a PhD I took at Sydney’s Macquarie University and turning it into a monograph has taken a considerable amount of my time over the last year. Regular readers will no doubt be familiar with Horwitz, as the publisher of many of the paperback covers that I post on this site. My study is the first book length examination of Australian pulp and one of the few detailed studies I am aware of a specific pulp publisher to appear anywhere.… Read more
Fifty years ago, Milano Calibro 9, or Calibre 9 as it was released in the United States, hit Italian cinema screens. A small time mafia foot soldier, Ugo Piazzo (Gastone Moschin, a famous Italian comic actor at the time), leaves prison only to be caught up in a conspiracy around the disappearance three years earlier of $300,000 from a Milanese crime boss known as the Americano. Believing that Ugo took the money and stashed it while he was in jail, the Americano sends Rocco (German Italian actor Mario Adorf), a clownish but lethal mob enforcer, to retrieve it. Ugo denies he had anything to do with the missing cash, but no one, including the police and his ambitious stripper girlfriend (Barbara Bouchet), will believe him.
Calibre 9 is an excellent entry point to examine the Italian crime film phenomena known as the poliziotteschi, well over a hundred of which appeared from the late 1960s to 1980. It also serves to focus some overdue attention one of the lesser-known but more interesting of the many poliziotteschi directors, Fernando Di Leo.
Billy Rags is very closely based on the life of the real British criminal John McVicar. Just how closely I’ll get to directly. McVicar was an armed robber, declared ‘public enemy no 1’ by Scotland Yard in the 1960s, until he was apprehended and given a 23-year sentence. He was also a serial escapee and after his final arrest in 1970 received a 26-year sentence but was paroled eight years later. McVicar was also something of a uniquely 1960s/70s phenomena, the self-aware/educated working class career criminal turned author and commentator on prison reform, a major social debate in those two decades. He studied for a university postgraduate, wrote an autobiography, McVicar by Himself, published in 1974, and authored a couple of other true crime books.… Read more
If you were unable to catch the two day on-line symposium on the recently released book co-edited by Iain McIntyre and myself, Dangerous Visions and New Worlds: Radical Science Fiction 1950-1985, organised by the iconic San Francisco bookshop City Lights in late February, fear not. All the sessions were recorded and are now available to view free on the City Lights Youtube channel at this link. This includes the interviews with new wave SF luminaries Samuel Delany and Michael Moorcock, and my session with Marge Piercy and US SF writer Terry Bisson, ‘The Forever War: Vietnam’s impact on sci-fi’. A huge thanks to the folks at PM Press, the events manager at City Lights Peter Maravelis, and all the writers who appeared as panel members or moderators over the two days.
In 2019 I wrote about why it was there were so few examples of Australian and US pulp and popular paperback fiction published in the 1960s and 1970s to engage with the Vietnam War and its consequences. That is, as anything more than a background or reason for why a character was as confused/damaged/homicidal as they were. Even fewer books still were actually set in Vietnam.
I have been on the lookout ever since for entries I might have missed in my original piece and thought Pulp Curry Readers might appreciate an update on my, admittedly, rather paltry findings. Most of the books below are American, although a number – The Wine in God’s Anger and the Half-Burnt Tree – were penned by Australian writers.… Read more