Tuesday, June 06, 2006

The Chinatown Death Cloud Peril by Paul Malmont

I was pointed to a review of a new "pulp" novel on Yahoo! News, The Chinatown Peril written by Paul Malmont; published by Simon & Schuster in hardcover. (Now just if they would print the damn things as paperback originals so we could afford to buy them!*) The book sounds great--the main players will all be familiar to you: L. Ron Hubbard, Lester Dent, Robert Heinlein, Louis L'Amour and many other popular writers of pulp's golden age join forces to solve the murder of the soon to be famous H.P. Lovecraft. . . read the review. It'll explain sooo much better than I, since, dare I presume, he actually read it. This is one I hope I can find at the local library.

*This review got me thinking, if the old-style pulpy thriller is fashionable--we see it all over these days in bookstores, on movie screens, and even on television--does it take away from its power as a vehicle of the working class to tell their very real story in a fantastical way? The way it told stories in the 30's, and especially the '40s and '50s when the paperback original revolutionized American literature by making books--real paper, ink and ideas--available in editions that the common person could afford?

The way I see it, when something becomes hip, or fashionable--all the beautiful people "love, just love it baby"--it has lost its connection with reality. If the wealthiest, most charming, most beautiful--and probably most medicated--of us all has an attraction to this neo-pulp has it (the genre) lost its power as a voice for the working class? God, I hope not, but how can the same piece of fiction speak to a Harvard graduate earning $300,000 a year and to the guy that cleans the toilets for $300 a week?

No answers here I'm afraid. Only questions, but damn I wish there were more publishers putting out affordable books. Although the cover for The Chinatown Death Cloud Peril is genuinely beautiful--still, it would be even more so on a cheap rack-sized paperback.

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