Sunday, June 18, 2006

Update: Shame-Faced Podcast

26 minutes, 9MB. Available here or at iTunes.

This latest installment of the spin-off blog’s podcast, in which Rosemarie selects a classic chick flick for me to watch while I program a seminal guy film for her, is a bit longer than previous outings. We got a little carried away, and when I say ‘we’ I mean ‘I.’ I do a terrible impression and at one point actually burst into song. I’m sorry. I don’t know what came over me. Honest.

Book: The Chinatown Death Cloud Peril, by Paul Malmont (2006)

It’s an idea so simple, so ingenious: put some of the masters of pulp fiction into a pulp story of their own. Paul Malmont, in his debut novel, more than does the idea justice. He’s written the most enjoyable book I’ve read in a long time.

Walter Gibson, creator of The Shadow, and Lester Dent, the man behind Doc Savage and this fool-proof pulp outline, have a personal and professional rivalry dating back years. Each is constantly trying to best the other, especially when it comes to unraveling real-life mysteries that might fuel their next two-fisted tale. Gibson heads to Providence to look into the alleged murder of second-rate pulpateer H. P. Lovecraft, while Dent tries to solve a Chinatown riddle dating back to the last Tong war. Little do they suspect that both crimes are connected ... to a dastardly plot for world domination!

The book is packed with thrills, spills and adventure – but it’s also about the power that myth and story have in everyday life. There are cameos galore from figures real and fictional, which I won’t spoil because they’re part of the fun. OK, I’ll spoil one: the scene in which Orson Welles, who voiced the Shadow on radio, describes his vision of a Shadow movie that prefigures film noir and Citizen Kane had my hair standing on end. It was strange to read about how poorly Lovecraft fared as a pulp writer during his lifetime only days after seeing the new Library of America collection of his work in a bookstore.

Here’s the highest compliment I can pay Malmont’s book: it not only kept me up well past my bedtime, it made me wake up early the next day so I could plunge back into it. I haven’t done that since I was ten years old – which is only appropriate, because this book made me feel that age again.

Miscellaneous: Links

A recent article on lucha libre, or masked Mexican wrestling, led me to the website of Christa Faust. Her novel Hoodtown is a noir set in a ghetto populated solely by masked luchadors. As if that weren’t cool enough, she also wrote the novelization of the upcoming movie Snakes on a Plane.

Christa’s latest blog post is one I’ve been waiting for, featuring her take on Jack Black’s Nacho Libre.