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Pulp Fiction: The Crimefighters by Otto…
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Pulp Fiction: The Crimefighters

by Otto Penzler

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522225,591 (3.6)1
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An anthology of stories mostly from the early thirties, and mostly from Black Mask magazine, with the latest being Cornell Woolrich's, in the early forties.

Hard boiled cops, private detectives, gangsters and dames to be found here, with the odd reporter or Texas Ranger, for variety.

One quibble would be including a novel in this, being an ahtology and them saying Carroll John Daly being of no great interest as a writer, apart from influence wise, why not one of his influential stories instead, and get a bunch more writers in there, or at least a few more seeing there is a marked preference here for novellas it would appear?

The City of Hell! you could almost see as an adventure of The Spider, or The S*uicide Squad - much more in that vein than some of the others, and very entertaining - so this was my favorite, ahead of Walsh, Woolrich and Daly.

The stories averaged right on 3.50, with a few ordinary ones, certainly enough to call this good overall and worth a look.

Pulp Fiction the Crimefighters : One Two Three - Paul Cain
Pulp Fiction the Crimefighters : The Creeping Siamese - Dashiell Hammett
Pulp Fiction the Crimefighters : Honest Money - Erle Stanley Gardner
Pulp Fiction the Crimefighters : Frost Rides Alone - Horace McCoy
Pulp Fiction the Crimefighters : Stag Party - Charles G. Booth
Pulp Fiction the Crimefighters : Double Check - Thomas Walsh
Pulp Fiction the Crimefighters : The City of Hell! - Leslie T. White
Pulp Fiction the Crimefighters : Red Wind - Raymond Chandler
Pulp Fiction the Crimefighters : Wise Guy - Frederick Nebel
Pulp Fiction the Crimefighters : Murder Picture - George Harmon Coxe
Pulp Fiction the Crimefighters : The Price of a Dime - Norbert Davis
Pulp Fiction the Crimefighters : Chicago Confetti - Williams RollinsJr
Pulp Fiction the Crimefighters : Two Murders One Crime - Cornell Woolrich
Pulp Fiction the Crimefighters : The Third Murderer - Caroll John Daly

"I talked to my driver like a father. I got down on my knees and begged him to keep that car in sight."

3 out of 5

"It is your idea that whoever did the carving advertised himself by running around the street in a red petticoat?"

3.5 out of 5

"I'm bucking a machine in this town and the machine is well entrenched with a lot of money behind it."

4 out of 5

One man Texas air army.

3.5 out of 5

Governor's lady killer.

3 out of 5

"Honest to gawd," he said, "some day Flaherty I'm gonna lay you like a rug.

4 out of 5

New justice, new court, a lot less rat.

4.5 out of 5

Some missing pearls, a dame, a dodgy cop, and a really good night for drinking.

3.5 out of 5

A spot of white slave trading.

2.5 out of 5

"The idea is okey as long as I don't get stuck with short beers."

3 out of 5

"Them heroes of the screen ain't taken no chances gettin' hurt. I'd spoil their act

3.5 out of 5

"Even while I pulled the trigger, I knew I was pulling my second boner."

3 out of 5

"We couldn't get you for the one you did commit, so we'll try you for another and get you for that instead."

4 out of 5

Multiple Gorgons, The Flame and the Devil Unchained.

Here's a story of a private detective, a tough woman with a troubled past, and some immigrant bad guys, and a somewhat complicated tale of revenge.

The PI has a thing for the woman, and the woman is playing all sides to get what she wants, including the cops.

Definitely not understated, or sparse, this one.

4 out of 5

http://notfreesf.blogspot.com/2008/02/pulp-fiction-crimefighters-otto-penzler.ht... ( )
  bluetyson | Jan 31, 2008 |
IT IS all too easy for reviewers to get cheap laughs by pouring sarcastic scorn on books: what is a critic after all but a failed and frustrated writer?

Pulp Fiction has a foreword by Harlan Coben, arguably the brightest and wittiest crime writer in America.

For readers under the age of 40, Pulp Fiction is the title of rather a good film in which a gorgeous Uma Thurman and a tubby John Travolta dance across the screen, and it looks nothing like Grease.

Forget drugs, sex and rock ’n roll as recreational pleasures, forget Samuel L Jackson in an afro, and forget especially all those four-letter words and blasphemy: literary pulp fiction is as far removed from all these late 20th-century necessities as the film Pulp Fiction is from Grease.

Although it was certainly regarded as distinctly adult and mainly masculine fodder, the term pulp fiction relates originally to stories that would be regarded today as strictly A-rated. (A for Abysmal, maybe?)

These are the early examples of “hard-boiled” detective stories that were published in the popular pulped wood paper magazines: the journals were cheap, ubiquitous, disposable and designed for a fairly uneducated target market who sought their thrills in short spurts of blood and guts rather than in the much longer, more prim and proper tales that appeared in books.

The golden age of the “pulps” occurred in America between the two world wars last century, and featured a plethora of titles — True Detective Stories, Weird Tales, to name just two — although this anthology has been garnered exclusively from just the one, Black Mask Magazine.

To quote editor Otto Penzler’s introduction: “The hard-boiled private detective is entirely an American invention, and it was given life in the pages of pulp magazines.” But how to define “hard boiled” to the pulp virgin? Well, imagine the opposite of Sherlock Holmes; imagine Father Brown tut-tutting in sorrow at the spectacle of the hard-drinking private dick, and saying a quick prayer. Imagine Hercule Poirot drawing himself up to his full height of five foot four inches, his magnificent pomaded moustache bristling in indignation at the bottom-drawer gum-shoe’s disrespectful tone; imagine Lord Peter Whimsey blanching — but enough: you get the idea.

Despite some misgivings, the cognoscenti of today will be drawn to this collection as Coben’s name is on the cover, and his foreword is full of the hyperbole that, in retrospect, can be bought only with lashings of cash, over-consumption of booze and judicious administration of informal pharmaceuticals and “herbal” cigarettes.

In short, despite the laudatory and over-the-top foreword and introduction, the content of Pulp Fiction is mediocre in the same way a six-year-old’s sonnet is mediocre in comparison with a masterpiece by Shakespeare. We are given 14 short stories, from Norbert Davis’s The Price of a Pearl (12 pages) to Carroll John Daly’s 137-page The Third Murderer, almost all of which were published from the early 1920s to the mid-1930s.

The only writer of any substance is Raymond Chandler, whose work is still in print today because he transcends the “hard boiled” genre rather than typifying it: most of the others have sunk in a mire of well-deserved oblivion.

Dashiell Hammett (Sam Spade) and Earle Stanley Gardner (Perry Mason) are also vaguely familiar names to the crime story buff, but who actually reads them today?

Pulp fiction is a literary form as dated as any Victorian Penny Dreadful, but without the linguistic standards or the author’s negligible literary or artistic merit.

As an easily digestible, inconsequential and inexpensive diversion for the socioeconomically “less privileged classes”, it fulfilled its function admirably.

Undoubtedly groundbreaking in its time, stripped of sentiment, sensibility and purple prose, pulp fiction may well have laid the foundation for many of the best American writers of today, but while the Chrysler Building is certainly an awe-inspiring structure, could the same be said of its foundations? Can the same be said of the foundations of modern American crime fiction?

Penzler has made a careful choice, geared to today’s sensitivities — given the racism, anti-Semitism, misogyny, and rampant xenophobia that was pretty standard 80 years ago.

His selection is relatively inoffensive to the PC standards of today, and probably a less than accurate reflection of the sentiments expressed in the original stories.

Given the social changes of the past few generations, today’s reader will fail to recognise many of the character clues embedded in the dated text.

In these stories, most of which were written during the years of the American Prohibition, warning bells would have rung loud and clear for any woman who smoked and drank.

As for a brazen hussy who in 1926 appeared before strange men in a “fur-trimmed dressing gown” — well … enuff said.

In his introduction, Coben states: “Reading pulp fiction is a bit like, uh, something else. Ninety percent of the writers out there admit they do it. Ten percent lie about it.”

Which makes me wonder if, after all, the Victorians were on the right track in their fanatical condemnation of “self-abuse”? ( )
  adpaton | Nov 22, 2007 |
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Otto Penzler introduces a selection of stories from the golden age of pulp fiction. Follow hardened detectives as they manhandle witnesses and battle villains, not to mention the cops, to get to the truth any way they can.

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