Saturday, November 17, 2007

Book: The Black Lizard Big Book of Pulps (2007)

Ed Gorman’s review alone convinced me to order this book, a compendium of writing from the glory days of the pulps. Editor Otto Penzler has assembled the big names. Raymond Chandler, James M. Cain, Cornell Woolrich, even a never-before-published story by Dashiell Hammett. Then there are the names that only the hardcore hardboiled fan recognizes. Steve Fisher, Frederick Nebel, Raoul Whitfield. And plenty more that are new to me. Short stories, novels, reproduced illustrations, biographical sketches, the works.

The volume tops out at over 1100 pages. Good thing the shipping was free. It’s literally the size of a phone book. One of the bent cops contained within could use it to obtain a confession. I haven’t been able to bring myself to read it yet. So far, I just take it down from the shelf and admire it.

John Banville, the Booker Prize-winning author who pens crime fiction as Benjamin Black, offers another take on the collection in Bookforum. (H/t to GreenCine Daily.) The intro’s a touch precious, but his thoughts on Chandler versus Cain are interesting. And we’re in complete agreement on the Parker novels by Richard Stark, aka Donald Westlake (“among the most poised and polished fictions of their time and, in fact, of any time”) and Georges Simenon. Read his piece and Ed’s. Then I dare you not to buy the book. You’ll probably finish it before me.

Miscellaneous: Scenes From A Marriage

Me: Salon came out with their sexiest men alive list. Want to know who’s on it?

Rosemarie: Do I? They probably went with Dennis Kucinich. Sure, go ahead. Who’s their sexiest man alive?

Me: (bad fake drum roll) Jon Hamm.

Rosemarie: (sharp intake of breath) From Mad Men?

Me: Yeah.

Rosemarie: Wow. That’s an excellent pick.

Me: You know who else is on here? Flight of the Conchords.

Rosemarie: (another sharp intake of breath) Which one?

Me: Both of them.

Rosemarie: Who else?

Me: Um, Alec Baldwin, Tony Leung, Will Arnett –-

Rosemarie: Let me see that.