It's time for a rare pulptastic two-fer. Jim Thompson was one of the most interesting crime fiction writers ever. In the 1990's, a whole bunch of his books were brought to the silver screen:a remake of The Getaway, After Dark, My Sweet and the cream of the crop, The Grifters. It's the touching tale of traditional con artist family values. The film version was produced by Martin Scorsese, directed by Stephen Frears and faithfully adapted for the screen by Donald E. Westlake.
First, the pulpilicious book cover:
The poster is nothing special unlike the movie itself, which features an amazing, star making performance by Annette Bening as a Gloria Grahame-style femme fatale:
I'm still having Mad Men withdrawal symptoms. Stanley Kubrick's film version of Arthur C Clarke's2001: A Space Odyssey was a recurring theme this season so I thought I'd post some pulpy covers of *other* Clarke books. The 2001 covers are insufficiently pulpy but these two are pulptastic:
John was a helluva writer and storyteller. His books The Last Hayride and Cross To Bear, about the 1983 and 1991 Gubernatorial races respectively, are two of the best books ever written about Louisiana politics. I've read both of them multiple times, and highly recommend them to anyone who wants to know more about Louisiana politics and some of the remarkable characters who John covered: Edwin Edwards, Buddy Roemer and David Duke to name a few.
I don’t believe in reincarnation, but if I did, I would swear that John Maginnis had been a corrupt Louisiana state senator in a previous life.
How else to explain how this legendary political journalist, who died Sunday at age 66, developed his uncanny ability to read the minds of the pols he covered in more than four decades of writing about Louisiana’s political culture?
In my 30-plus years in and around Louisiana politics, I never met a non-politician who understood the state’s political system better than John. For those of us who write about politics, he was the gold standard by which we all measured ourselves.
He was, as Huey Long once said about himself, sui generis.
Since I went on about Roger Sterling's grandson being named Ellery, I figured it was time to post a few Ellery Queen covers. Why the hell not? Ellery Queen was both the name of a fictional amateur detective and a pen name for his creators who were cousins named Fredric Dannay and Manfred Lee, which were, in turn, pen names. It's quite complicated so I'll leave it at that; suffice it to say that they were Jews writing about an uber goy detective and, at that time, a pen name was almost mandatory.
The Ellery Queen books were highly entertaining puzzle mysteries and wildly popular but even their Fifties paperbacks were all pulped up:
Variations week at First Draft continues with two covers for this hard boiled novel. This is one I've read, and it's pretty damn good. Wade Miller is a pen name for the prolific team of Bob Wade and Bill Miller. They also published under the name of Whit Masterson, which evokes images of the Old West unlike say, Cliven Bundy, who sounds like one of Bertie Wooster's cronies:
Louisiana State Rep.Thomas Carmody (R-Bible Belt) is the latest person to emerge from obscurity to become malaka of the week. I never heard of him before today and plan to forget him as soon as possible. Unfortunately, that won't be soon enough: his bill establishing the Bible as the official state book got out of committee yesterday. Here's a longer than average excerpt from an article in the Vestigial Picayune:
This cover fits into the pulp sub-category of sleaze. The title is just plain silly but the tag line is sublime:
OMG, the author's name has been covered. Horrors. I'm sure that Don Bellmore was very proud of this tome even though it's a pen name for a guy named George H White. It might not as good as Shame Toy but this book contains some incisive urban-rural social commentary, or at least I think it does. Sheesh, maybe I'll have to read it now. Nah.
I've been offline for 24 hours but the problem has been resolved so here I am baby, signed sealed and delivered, I'm yours. Now that I've gotten that off my chest, this week's pulp cover is for a book by one of the founders of crime fiction as a literary genre. Ms. Sayers was decidedly not a pulp writer but if a spicy cover sells books, why the hell not. This is a short story collection with two stories featuring her most famous character, Lord Peter Wimsey:
This book has a great title: a lemon has never lied to me. How about you? Since it's written by the awesome and prolific Donald Westlake, I'm sure it's a good read. Westlake was one of the funniest crime fiction writers ever and that's no lie.
Jim Thompson is one of the more interesting crime fiction writers of the 50's and '60's. His best known book is The Getaway, but The Grifters and After Dark, My Sweet were also put on film in the 1990's. Very good films, I might add.
I've read a lot of Thompson but I've never read Wild Town. It was suggested by my friend Kevin when I axed for requests. Great tag line:
I stumbled into this NOLA themed pulp cover on a friend's Facebook page. It seems to have something to do with the world's oldest profession. In New Orleans? In the Quarter? Who knew? I wonder if Diaper Dave has ever been to French Alley:
I have a confession to make. I didn't realize it was Thursday until I saw Michael F's post. These pesky holidays have a way of turning night into day and Tuesday into Saturday. It also doesn't help that the sun refuses to shine here in Debrisville.
Anyway, here's an offering to put you into the 2014 spirit. Probably not, but I like it:
The 1962 version of The Manchurian Candidate is one of the best political thrillers of all time. (The Jonathan Demme remake is pretty good as well.) It was pulled from circulation in the wake of the Kennedy assassination by star/producer/former JFK pal, Frank Sinatra. The story has a few superficial similarities to Oswald's but many, many more differences. But it was still wise to pull the movie when the country was numb over the events in Dallas.
Here's an early cover of Richard Condon's 1959 novel:
Here's the poster for the re-release of John Frankenheimer's brilliant 1962 film:
2012 Ashley award winner and all around nice guy Lamar White has written a great and highly personal post about 12 Years a Slave. It turns out that Lamar's aunt, Sue Eakin, was one of the editors of the 1968 LSU Press edition of Solomon Northup's memoirs. Here's a link to Lamar's post at his swell blog, CenLamar.
Few acts have as mythical a history as the Illinois power pop band Shoes. From their legendary living-room-produced breakthrough Black Vinyl Shoes, through the trio of gems recorded for Elektra Records, and back to their DIY roots, Shoes’ path has not always been straight, but they have nevertheless managed to create some of the finest records the genre has ever produced. In Boys Don’t Lie, pop blogger Mary Donnelly and Moira McCormick breaks through the myth to tell the real story. With a naïve faith in themselves and their music, Shoes set out to make the kind of records they liked, finding themselves accidentally part of a movement that both fed and swamped them. Withdrawing from the scene, they settled in to form their own studio and label, sharing their distinctive DIY ethos with the next generation of alternative artists. Now elder statesmen of the alt-pop scene, Shoes continues their enduring legacy of friendship and music.
This book traces the history of this unusual and influential musical group. More than just the history of a single group, Boys Don’t Lie explores the broader history of the music industry over the last forty years: the technological and commercial upheavels that have buffeted both the major labels and the independents.
This week's PFT will be the last hostage reference I'll be making for now. Hopefully, there won't be future Congressional hostage taking but I wouldn't bet the farm, ranch, or whatever on it. Here's a really sleazy-n-kinky cover for your perusal:
Yeah, I know that calling The Desperate Hours pulp fiction is a bit of a stretch. It starred cinema icon and Oscar winner Humphrey Bogart. It co-starred one of the greatest actors of the day, 2-time Oscar winner, Fredric March. It also features Oscar winning character actor and Adrastos favorite, Arthur Kennedy. And it was directed by "prestige" director and Oscar winner, Willy Wyler. It is, however, about a home invasion with Bogie going all bad ass like some of his earlier characters such as Mad Dog Roy Earle and Duke Mantee. Hostage taking is in right now, y'all.
There was a remake in 1990. I never saw it. For one thing, I have a policy of avoiding movies with Mickey Rourke. For another, I hate remakes. Speaking of which, they've remade Carrie? Really?
Here's the lobby card:
The Desperate Hours was based on a book by Joseph Hayes. I've never read it and am not terribly interested in doing so:
Every once in awhile I get offered freebies by PR people hoping to get plugged on First Draft. Most of the time it's for stuff I'm not interested in: books on the supernatural, right wing tracts, stuff like that. Occasionally, I ask for the free book, dvd or whatever, give them my snail mail address and never hear back. I don't care enough to call them out specifically but I dislike people who offer something and blow you off.
That endless opening paragraph leads up to this: I got an email from Simon & Schuster offering me a copy of Tip and The Gipper by Chris Matthews and they actually sent it to me. I know some of my fellow bloggers aren't Tweety fans but I quite like him. Yes, he can be deeply annoying but he's very human unlike many of the robotic newspeeps on one's teevee screen. He's also a blurter, which means you never know what's going to come out of his mouth. Spontaneous thy name is Tweety.
As to the book itself, I really liked it. I'm a big fan of the "staffer as fly on the wall" memoir genre and this is a good one. Tweety is actually harder on Reagan than some of the punditry I've read would suggest: the back and forth between Reagan and the book's hero, Tip O'Neill, got very heated at times because they both had strong beliefs and convictions. Did they compromise in the national interest? Yes, but some of the book's strongest passages are about the Speaker's spirited opposition to Reganomics and his idiotic and damaging Central Amercian policies.
I had the pleasure of meeting Tip O'Neill several times during the period covered by the book. By the time I met him, he'd stopped underestimating the Reagan appeal and had learned how to deal with it. I was in awe of the Speaker. He was a hulking bear of a man with hands that could have palmed a basketball and an iron grip. My father was convinced you could judge a man by his handshake and Tip O'Neill passed with flying colors.
My main takeaway from Tweety's timely Tip tome is not the CW about the O'Neill-Reagan relationship, the whole "pals after 6PM" thing. It was both leader's ability to deliver their people because they reflected the views of their respective parties so well, like Nancy Pelosi and unlike the hapless John Boehner. O'Neill and Reagan were able to deal because their supporters trusted them to do the right thing even if it involved compromise. Today Reagan would be denounced as a sell-out by the wingers who claim to idolize him.
“They were careless people, Tom and Daisy- they smashed up things
and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast
carelessness or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other
people clean up the mess they had made.”
Every time I deal with careless people, and I've done more than my share of that recently, I think about Tom and Daisy. Carelessness, like malakatude, knows no class limitations although being part of the 1% makes being careless even easier. I'm not the only one who's obsessed with this image. There's an entire book by Sarah Churchwell centered around Fitzgerald's careless people. Maybe I should read it before going to the movies and fuming about the douchebag who thinks live tweeting the new DeNiro/Pfeiffer flick is okay. That's either high tech or low brow carelessness, I'm not sure which.
For some odd reason, my Facebook friends keep tagging me on pictures of prurient pulp covers. I cannot imagine why. Anyway, here are two that fit into the category of sleaze pulp art. The first one is courtesy of my friend Brian D:
People have been "recycling" for a long time, including paperback publishers. My favorite book scan site has compiled quite a collection of twins. That's right, cover art that was used more than once. Here's a nifty example:
When I wrote about Sam Raimi's cinematic take on the Oz mythos, I neglected to mention my own fondness for L Frank Baum's books, which I read as a laddie. Despite being aimed at children, their tone was considerably darker than the MGM film classic, which is one reason I remain fond of the books.
I used the google and found to my delight that Gore Vidal's classic 1977 essay On Rereading The Oz Books is online at the NY Review of Books' web site. Check it out, y'all. It's the Master at his best.
And now for today's book cover. How about a little fire, Scarecrow?
To illustrate that life is a journey, one of the Italian cardinals
touted as a favorite to be the next pope doesn't just turn to the
Scriptures – but also to Jack Kerouac and Cormac McCarthy.
Angelo Scola, the archbishop of Milan, is seen as Italy's best chance
at reclaiming the papacy, following back-to-back popes from outside the
country that had a lock on the job for centuries.
Quoting from Kerouac's iconic Beat Generation novel `'On the Road,"
Scola invited his audience of students to reflect on whether they `'were
going to get somewhere, or just going." And he cited McCarthy's
post-apocalyptic father-son journey in `'The Road," urging youths to
consider the meaning of "destination" – a key theme in McCarthy's work.
`'The destination is a happy life, an accomplished life that doesn't end with death but with eternal life," the archbishop said.
Jack Kerouac? Crazy, daddy-o. The Cardinal actually quoted a notorious bi-sexual alcoholic drug user. Awesome. Does this make him a closet liberal? Unlikely. Perhaps he'll quote Ginsburg or Ferlinghetti next, which inspires me to suggest a possible name: Pope Beatnik I. The hipsters will love it and it shouldn't scare too many old ladies or altar boys. The latter, alas, are always scared and the former mostly admire the Cardinals for their red frocked finery.
I'll let Ian Anderson, of all people, have the last word, with this ode to the Beat Generation:
It's potboiler time at PFT again. This week's entry is a tribute to my friend Kevin who is an avid fan of PFT and trashy pulp artwork in general. He uses this tawdry magazine cover as his avatar at a certain social networking site whose name I will omit to protect the guilty: