Tuesday, January 31, 2006
I put my friend pHinn's street cred into a serious doubt when he announced he liked to watch the Starsky & Hutch reruns on Finnish television. I said I might be more interested in the novelizations. This was a joke at first, but it occurred me to check - I had a suspicion nagging somewhere in the back of my mind that it shouldn't've been a joke.
And, yes, there were eight Starsky & Hutch novelizations. Here's the list; all of the following were written as by Max Franklin who was really Richard Deming about whom I've had nice things to say in Pulpografia.
Starsky & Hutch 1: [no title]
Starsky & Hutch # 2: Kill Huggy Bear
Starsky & Hutch #3: Death Ride
Starsky & Hutch # 4: Bounty Hunter
Starsky & Hutch # 5: Terror on the Docks
Starsky & Hutch #6: The Psychic (from a script by Michael Mann!)
Starsky & Hutch #7: The Setup
Starsky & Hutch #8: Murder on Playboy Island
All of these were published by Ballantine in 1976-1978. The last one is credited with being the scarcest one. The seller in Abebooks asks 95$ for it! (There are cheaper ones, too, if you want to grab it.)
There seems to be no novelization of the recent Owen Wilson movie.
Vaimo toi vaalikonjakin sunnuntai-iltana kun istuin tässä koneella ja bloggasin. (Tai tein töitä, en ole ihan varma enää. Muistelen, että oli tarkoitus työskennellä.) Olin häipynyt television äärestä, kun Ylen ennuste tuli. Meillä siis ilahduttiin Halosen voitosta - mikä ei varmaankaan ole yllätys kenellekään niistä neljästä jotka tätä seuraavat. Mutta meillä ei oltu iloisia Halosen ällöttävästä Suomi-henkisestä kampanjasta. Jos olisimme nuorempia ja kyynisempiä, olisimme hyvinkin voineet jättää tämän perusteella äänestämättä Halosta! (Mietin ensimmäisellä kierroksella Hautalan äänestämistä, minkä olisin jälkikäteen arvioituna voinut hyvinkin tehdä.)
Ja näinhän monet tekivätkin. Joku nuori jyväskyläläinen tutkija kirjoitti Hesarin yliössä hiukan hämmentävän, mutta oivaltavan analyysin ihmisten äänestystaktiikoista. Hän totesi monien ystäviensä olleen Halosen takana, mutta äänestäneen kuitenkin muuta ehdokasta, jotta saataisiin hyvää draamaa. Tutkija sanoi vielä, että monet ajattelivat asiaa niin että olisi hienoa, jos itsestäänselvä ehdokas (eli Halonen) saisi näpeilleen - tosi-tv:n tyyliin!
Aikoinaan yksi kaveri boikotoi Pepsodentia, koska näillä oli niin typerät mainokset (ja itse boikotoin Dressmannia samasta syystä), mutta onko se validi asenne presidentinvaaleissa? Tietysti tämä kertoo myös siitä, että ihmisten mielestä mikään ei muutu, vaikka olisikin Niinistö pressana (mikä voi tietysti olla totta, mistä sen nyt saamme tietää), mikä taas kertonee siitä, että puolueiden välillä on liian vähän eroja eikä kukaan tiedä, mitä nämä todella ajattelevat. Mikä taas näkyi siinä, että ihmiset kertoivat katugallupeissa äänestyspäätöstensä perusteista paljonpuhuvia juttuja: "Se oli luonteva esiintyjä."
Muutoin vaalit jättivät jälkeensä muutamia loistavia fraaseja, joita kyllä tulen toistelemaan tästä lähin aina kun tilaisuus tulee. Yksi suosikeistani oli Sarasvuo, jonka mukaan Niinistö oli henkinen tienavaaja, joka aloitti henkisen uudelleenrakennuksen ajan (tai jotain sinnepäin). Myös naisten kommentit Halosesta hämmensivät. Miten nainen voi vihata toista naista niin paljon? Joku tangolaulaja heitti, ettei hän halua sanoa Haloselle mitään! Satu Silvo: "Olen sen verran feministi että tarvitsen vahvan miehen rinnalleni." (Tämä jatkui jotenkin niin, että pitää olla torni tornin rinnalla ja että Niinistössä on tornia. Onkohan Silvo kokeillut?)* Joku katugallupissa tavoitettu sanoi, että Niinistö on ensimmäinen miespoliitikko, jossa on munaa.
Yksi pieni vaalianekdootti: kun kävimme toisella kierroksella äänestämässä, vaaliavustaja, nuori tyttö, luki William S. Burroughsin Nistiä!
* Aikoinaan kun olin Turun Ylioppilaslehdessä töissä, mietimme yhtä härskien työtoverien kanssa, mitä Sauli sanoo Tanja Karpelalle sängyssä. En kehtaa toista sitä tässä.
Monday, January 30, 2006
I'm printing the novels I'm sending to the crime novel contest. It's weird to let go of these and not know what happens to them. I'm not so sure about the other, but it looks good. Still I keep making last-minute corrections and thinking about whether a particular scene should be done in some other way. Wait a minute, is that line bad there, should be there more vibe in that? Just let go, man, I keep telling myself. (I have to: the deadline is tomorrow.)
I haven't yet learnt just how one is able to decide what's good and what's not - if it's my own writing. (It seems to be easier in the non-fiction business, in which I've been much longer than writing and really trying to publish fiction.) Here's hoping.
By the way: I wrote the first draft of the other novel when I was still living with Ottilia's mother. I remember that I did some 30 or 40 pages at the same time when Ottilia was being born. We lived near the hospital and I ran back and forth to grab something to eat and everytime I sneaked to the computer and wrote page after page in a feverish rush. Ottilia's birth took 25 hours, if I remember correctly, and I think I got the story going pretty fast. It's been lying in the computer ever since. I dug it out and have been polishing it and rewriting bits. It looks good, dammit!
I had a laptop with me when Elina gave birth to Kauto. While waiting, I arranged the manuscript that will someday be the sequel to my original Pulpografia and wrote some bits of poetry (one of them got actually published later on).
Sunday, January 29, 2006
I've promised elsewhere that I'd write something about the legendary Disney and duck artist, Carl Barks. I've always considered him to be one of the best five comic artists ever in the whole world.
I was reading a book that has been made only for the Finnish audience (if I understood correctly) that commemmorates Barks's 100th birthday - it's a book with Barks's own favourite Duck stories. It's a telling book: an artist doesn't always know what's best for him. I mean, the stories are great, but they are not the best stuff Barks made. Missing are almost completely the Chekhovian short stories about the everyday life of Donald Duck and his nephews, Scrooge McDuck and especially Gladstone Gander. In these stories Barks was at his grimmest and comes close to the noir atmosphere: people (or the ducks, actually) are haunted by their past deeds and they don't really know who they are and their identities shift in every possible occasion.
I don't know why this was, but Barks's best stories - at least to me - were made in the early fifties. Maybe it was the Korean war paranoia (about which Woody Haut talks about in his delightful Pulp Culture) that made the anger and bitterness rise to fore in Barks's stuff in the early fifties. David Cochran should've used Barks's stories as an example in his book, America Noir.
The stories that came after this are naïve at best. In the book we have the story "Micro-Ducks from Outer Space" from 1966. It's a fast-moving adventure, but the premise is downright stupid: it's announced in the morning that the sceptics' club gives away billion dollars to anyone who presents a real UFO and immediately everyone's crazy about it, shouting at skies and pleading the aliens to come down. The same goes for the stories in which Donald Duck manages in every profession he tries - the scheme gets boring after a few stories.
This said, I cannot but admire Barks's knack for building up atmosphere, mood and even straight horror. I need only name "The Old Castle's Secret", which, if it were a movie, would be in the pantheon. Economic storytelling at its best. Barks's best secret - namely, how to draw psychologically plausible facial and bodily expressions - is here already at top form, even though this is one of his earliest and the second one with Scrooge McDuck.
(I was rather disappointed to read from a interview in the web (I can't find it anymore, sorry!) that Barks was against the US taking part in the WWII. Lucky they got Roosevelt in the lead.)
Saturday, January 28, 2006
Finished Jeff Lindsay's much-praised serial killer parody Darkly Dreaming Dexter last night. I wasn't wildly excited. I wasn't excited at all. I spent two days without reading a page, which isn't a very good result for a thriller.
It seems impossible to write a serial killer parody without reverting in the end to the old clichés about the killer genius who manages to escape everytime and who has all the childhood traumas that manifest themselves in the sexual lust that leads to killing. Lindsay does nothing to crash this supposition and while the book was mildly entertaining at times, it did nothing for me.
(Once again I remind you of Buñuel's film in which the hero dreams of killing several people, but someone kills them or they die accidentally before he gets on with the killing.)
Thursday, January 26, 2006
It seems that Kauto is finally, at one year and (almost) five months, beginning to sleep his nights. No more waking in the middle of the night. Sigh! It's weird, though, that waking up at seven or seven thirty seems more difficult to me now than, say, two months ago. Maybe the fatigue is at last coming through. Or then again it might be that it's still dark outside when you wake up.
We got a lengthy e-mail response from an editor who works at the publishing house that rejected our YA novel last week. It seems they would still be interested, but only if we develop things further. It's just odd that another published said exactly the opposite thing and asked us to turn down the homosexuality thing. This one wants more of it. (It's odd also that if they really show interest in the manuscript, why reject it with only a short notice and not call us and say that maybe we should work together on this and we have some ideas etc. I don't get publishers.)
Elina is at work with the ms as I write.
Shot the first insert for the TV show yesterday. I had to cut my speech down severely to make it to match the one-minute request I had. It took some 1:20, though. That is no problem, I was told later. Don't really know how it went, since there was only the photographer. They hadn't sent me a director. And they won't in the future, which is weird. It's as if they wouldn't want it to the best thing possible.
I wore a black Stetson-manufactured fedora from the fifties in the shooting (it was shot outside). I asked Elina whether it looks silly or snobbish, but she said it looks just fine.
Finished polishing up the two manuscripts I'm sending to a crime novel contest. Wish me luck! I find it even at this point extremely hard to tell whether my stuff is actually any good or not.
There's a presidential election next Sunday coming up. I've been wondering why people put so much emphasis on TV debates and such. Don't they have goddamn political views on which they can vote? Don't they know on whose side they are on? Don't they know on whose side the candidates are? It's not shopping, people, it's a serious business!
Someone quoted recently Bertrand Russell as saying: a man without a political view is like a man without pants. (Or something to that effect.)
Too much television shows at the moment. Mondays: Desperate Housewives. Tuesdays: Shield and Deadwood. Wednesdays: Deadwood comes out so late that we'll have to watch the previous night's show from the tape. Thursdays: Lost (starting today). Fridays: Battlestar Galactica (missed the first one last week). Saturdays: umm.. actually nothing. Sundays: The Wire (to my mind the best show at the moment, but I always seem to forget it - it comes out at 23:50, which is just plain stupid). I just hope Lost and Galactica are crap and won't have to watch them. Housewives is very entertaining (and not just for Eva Longoria), but it drags.
Spent a lovely night yesterday reading Dupuy-Berberian's Jean graphic novels and short stories. Simply wonderful! I could easily identify with Jean who is a young literary novelist (with one novel to his credit) and who lives in Paris and associates with his friends and mates. In one of the short stories he reads a negative comment on his novel. I knew exactly how he felt! In the end of the last of four I read Jean is getting to be a self-adopted dad to a little boy called Eugene. I find the situation deeply moving and touching. The boy is spoiled and difficult to hang out with, he doesn't really know where his mother is and his real step-father is a shallow sociopath (even though he's Jean's best friend).
Enough of this. There's a lunch soon.
Tuesday, January 24, 2006
I dug recently a bunch of C-cassettes from the trash bin. I gave the recordable ones to a friend of mine who runs a record label that publishes some obscure stuff in cassettes and kept the others. These are the crop of the bunch.
The first one is a collection of children's songs. Would you give that guy to your kids? Scary! You know, John Wayne Gacy also acted as a clown in children's parties...
Parhaat musat I/The Best Music I is a compilation of artists from Pori, if I understand correctly. The compilation was produced by an ad company in Pori and the cover photograph was taken by Visa Mäkinen, fhe Z film genius. This predates his film career: the cassette is from 1978 and his first film came in 1979.
The woman in the photo is, I believe, Virpi Miettinen, who was Miss Finland in 1965 and later became a religious celebrity.
Jussi Hakulinen came from the same town as I did: Pori, from the West Coast of Finland, with appr. 77,000 population. He had a popular glam-schlager band called Yö/Night, but he quit the band for reasons I don't know. Maybe because of his bad hair?
A saxist friend of mine played later in Hakulinen's band and I seem to remember that they made a record that was never or very poorly released. This was in the early nineties. I don't really know what Hakulinen is up to now. (The album on the left was called The Pink Hotel.)
But, really, that hair... Elina bought recently a new issue of InStyle and in there someone says that the seventies was a fashion wreck. What about the eighties, then?
I found an old letter I'd written to an American acquaintance of mine. It's full of oddball references to the pulp publishing in Finland, Sweden and Germany, and I thought it would repay to post it here. All the personal stuff removed, of course. It's mainly about some Finnish Western paperbacks and pulps with John Wayne in the cover which I sent to the friend of mine. I'm sorry that I can't post any covers - I'm not sure if I kept any duplicates.
finally these John Wayne covers reach you. Sorry for the delay.
I fear I haven't been able to find as many Wayne books as I'd like have to. There are more – in the Summer I even held one in my hand, but then I put it away in order to check the other books and eventually the book disappeared. These four Wayne books include two Colt books or rather leaflets. The Colt was a very popular series stemming from the early sixties to the eighties. The authors in these books – Shad Denver and Emerson Dodge – were very frequent in the series, but I know nothing about them. I hope you recognize them and could offer some information. [NB: The authors are Australian paperbackers. - jn] The Texas series with Wayne and Kirk Douglas in the cover is a German one. As you can see, the copyright is given to Martin Kelter Verlag in Hamburg. I haven't paid any attention to the series, so I don't know how long it continued, but I do know that there is another Texas book with a John Wayne cover. I hope to find it.
There's still a Swedish McQ – hård hämnare, which means "tough avenger". (The letter å is pronounced like 'oh'.) This is a novelization of a seventies film. As you can see, there's an ad for some paperback porn novel in the back of the book. I just wonder who wrote the book in question. It's about John Stake, a special agent, a mixture of Matt Helm and Dr. Kinsey, as it says in the ad.
I include also two photocopies of John Wayne in the cover of a Finnish pulp magazine called Jännityslukemisto – Seikkailukertomuksia (Suspense Library – Adventure Stories). This one ran from 1959 to 1963 and was a fusion of two earlier magazines the names of which you probably guess. They stem from the thirties. I'd send you the magazines, but that's impossible since I read these in the university library. The other cover with Wayne shooting point blank includes, if I remember right, a story by the science fiction writer Nelson Bond. [This is a false memory, as I've seen the magazine again. It was some other, more obscure pulp writer. - jn] I believe it's "The Outlaws of Dust Canyon" mentioned in the cover.
I'll throw in some extra: three Clint Eastwood covers and a Swedish Larry Kent with Humphrey Bogart, copied straight from High Sierra. You can probably trade these if you're not interested in them yourself. The Swedish Larry Kent is interesting: it's originally an Australian book, but it claims to have been translated from "American"! Two of the Eastwoods are from the Colt series, the third one is from Lännensarja, meaning Western Library, which was very popular too from the early fifties to the eighties. It ran longer than Colt, but I don't have the years at the moment. In Lännensarja there were printed many classic authors, such as Ernest Haycox, Clarence E. Mulford and William Colt MacDonald.
The most interesting thing about the Eastwoods is the John Huston picture in the back of Brett McKinley's No Man's Deputy. The blurb says: "The gun spat once.. twice.. death had once again made a visit and the law of vengeance had been fulfilled – but the old man didn't lose his smile.." It's an advertisement for yet another Western digest, Colorado.
If you're interested in more John Wayne covers, let me know. I'm sure I can dig something up. And if you're interested in Finnish western covers of American actors in general, let me know. Searching these I found several Kirk Douglases, at least one Tony Curtis-Dean Martin (!) and one Lee J. Cobb.
Sunday, January 22, 2006
At least I think I didn't. Someone didn't. How could it not be me? (I've had a novel rejected this week, so it's pretty obvious it was me.)
See for yourself: Paul Guyot's blog contest for crime stories. My story (with my name on it!) is here. Congratulations for the winners! (Some of the stories could well be published in Isku.)
I wrote the story when I was 13. That may well explain the fact that there's not much plot. I just patched it up a bit before sending it. (On the left you can see the notebook I scribbled the story with a pencil!)
Here are two Finnish Ross Macdonalds. The sexy cover is for The Zebra-Striped Hearse (1962), which has always been my favourite Macdonald. The other one is for The Wycherly Woman (1961), which could be just as good, but I think I've read it only once.
(Just to remind you that there's a growing base of Finnish book covers here. The texts are in Finnish, though.)
Saturday, January 21, 2006
Finished Terrill Lankford's Shooters earlier today. A gripping noir thriller, taut and tight, and also touching. Lankford's "hero", fashion photographer Nick Gardner, is not a sympathetic character and Lankford emulates his voice in the narration quite well. The mystery surrounds the death of a porn actress, whom Gardner fucked in a cocaine rush. The killing appears to be filmed...
Lankford gives a very authentic-looking picture of the Hollywood porn industry - and it's a lot better than you'd imagine! Gardner says in one point that the porn hustlers are more honest than most of the Hollywood people. He goes on to say that if there are snuff or kiddie porn films, the porn industry is the first one to report it, because it really hurts the sales.
My only quibble is that at some points the explanations seem a bit rushed and are passed by quite fast.
Friday, January 20, 2006
Thursday, January 19, 2006
The YA novel Elina and I have written came back from a big publisher. Scheisse! We talked about this and settled that Elina will rewrite it. I admit that she knows the genre way much better than me. I may've written too hardboiled stuff for the little girls. (Just to remind you: it's about a 14-year old girl whose dad turns out to be gay.)
Elina read my P.I. novel and liked it a lot. She's not connoisseur of the genre, but would've easily got bored if it were utter rubbish or just some hackneyd action. It's not. It's closer to someone like Jason Starr or Terrill Lankford, about whom I wrote just couple days back. At the last pages, I was also reminded of Gaspar Noé's disturbing little film Seul contre tous/I Stand Alone, even though Noé's hero could easily beat the shit out of mine. Elina noticed some mistakes in the plot, have to make corrections.
This is going off to a mystery novel competition, and so is my other crime novel, with another P.I. in the lead - this time it's Joe Novak who's been seen in three stories in Isku. I'm talking about The Dostoyevsky Reel that takes place in the late fifties' Hollywood, amongst its schlock scum. It's not nearly as grim as the other novel (which has no title, by the way), it's more along the lines of traditional hardboiled private eye novel. I noticed some mistakes while rereading it.
I could still do something to my third novel, which has a tentative title Blood Orgy of the Void God, and send it too to the contest, but it's not a mystery novel in any sense. More like a religious horror thriller. I've been dabbling with some ideas regarding the novel and may yet return to it.
I've also written some paragraphs to my story about Joe Novak in an empty hotel room, touching things, thinking about his past career as a private eye.
I realized one thing earlier today: I've never concentrated on writing fiction this much. Maybe this is what it takes: concentration. It's just too bad I have non-fiction commitments to make and some ideas I should be taking forward to publishers. (The damn TV thing got my schedule out of order! Must refocuse. (And I must get back to work.))
And, please, check out the Ink Slinger Bog Armored Car/Kids Clothing Story contest up at screenwriter Paul Guyot's blog. You may find something familiar there. (Use your vote! I need the T-shirt!)
Wednesday, January 18, 2006
But, well, um, not actually. I've been listening to a collection of Angolese music from the sixties and seventies and one of the songs could actually be one of the lighter pieces in the Nuggets compilation: Vum Vum's Muzangola. It's said in the sleeve notes that the singer Vum Vum praises the authentic African music, but I find there's more feel of American soul and sixties' pop in the song.
You can find an excerpt of the song here.
1. I can't sleep in the same room with a ticking clock. I have to remove the batteries or take the clock out of the room (and if I can, put it somewhere behind closed doors). I've done this even in a hotel: I sneaked in the middle of the night into the hall and took the batteries out of a ticking clock and tried to hide them. My mother-in-law once said: "You must be pretty difficult to live with." Elina got angry when she heard this.
2. I'm the only living person I've ever heard of who eats sour bamboo shoots. (Others have died.) They smell like a sewer that hasn't been drained for months. If I eat them at home, I'll have to shut the can to keep the smell out of other peoples' noses.
3. Collecting various stuff: I start a new collection six or seven times a year. I've been collecting old handkerchiefs (and, please, don't ask if they are clean or used when I purchase them), old bikes, old photographs of bikes, postcards with architectural items, old porn paperbacks, old T-shirts and ties, preferably from the sixties and seventies, vintage plasticware, stupid children's books (I'll have to write about these later on and post scans), old bookmarks and publishers' and book shops' catalogues, etc. Usually I forget about all of these in a few months' time, but sadly the collections remain. (Except for the old bikes: a friend of mine has them. We managed to purchase some 30 old bicycles before burning out.) I also like to think that I have collections of shirts and jackets. I have to justify them somehow. Lately it seems that I have collections of shoes and men's underwear, too.
4. Even though I've been known to put large amounts of money into books and clothes (and also luxury food), I just can't pay same prices for music. Even a CD that costs 10 euros is too much for me, but I wouldn't hesitate to put the same money into a good T-shirt. Same goes for DVD's. They are way too expensive for me. (But if I find a crappy old VHS with a same movie or some obscure hidden gem for 1,5 euros, I'm game.)
5. I can't stand seeing food thrown away. I finish other peoples' food more likely than throw it away. I've been trying to learn away from this and I didn't nag at Elina the other day when I saw the spaghetti I'd been trying to salvage in the garbage.
(I can easily top Tosikko's reading of narratological theory books in a train. I once tried to finish Faulkner's Absalom, Absalom in a train. I had some 30 pages to go and I thought I could manage it, even though the book is notoriously hard to read. (I don't remember anything about it, except for this anecdote.) Then I met a friend who was headed towards the same place as I was. She was especially talkative and even though I sat the whole trip with Faulkner on my lap, she wouldn't let me read. Then just 15 minutes before the train arrived to Turku or whatever place it was, I had to take a shit and I took the book with me to the toilet! I seem to remember it was winter-time, so it was pretty chilling to sit in there and read Absalom, Absalom...)
Tuesday, January 17, 2006
In the fourties there were at least two stories about Mikko Jarmo and I don't think I'm entirely wrong if I say that he was one of the first - if not the first - private eye of the American kind in the Finnish literature. There had been gangster stories and such earlier, but not a series character of Jarmo's kind. Ensio's first stories were war stories, if I remember correctly, and Jarmo came along only later. I'm putting one of the Jarmo stories in the book of Finnish pulp fiction I've compiled.
Here's the Jaakko Ensio bibliography from Seikkailujen Maailma:
Jaakko Ensio: Kuolemansade (The Death Rain)
Jaakko Ensio: Kuolematon (The Immortal)
Jaakko Ensio: Pieni vihollinen (The Small Enemy)
Jaakko Ensio: Aamun koitteessa (At Dawn)
Jaakko Ensio: Itse ilmiantajana (Being an Informer; I think this is Mikko Jarmo, too, but am not sure)
Jaakko Ensio: Konnan kuolema (The Death of a Crook; Mikko Jarmo)
Jaakko Ensio: Kirjojen kauppias (The Bouquinist; Mikko Jarmo)
Here are the rest of our bookshelves. (I like to think that the books are ours, but actually some 90 % of the books are bought by me for me.)
The pictures are from the living room. The big shelf isn't a very good looking one, but I've been buying this type of shelf for years since my mom bought me pieces of it for my 18th birthday when I was still living with her and I've thought it too expensive to change it to any other type of shelf. There's too much open space above the books, which is probably my main concern. But the shelves are quite deep and most are double-decked.
The smaller shelves came with the apartment we are living in at the moment. They belonged to the earlier tenant and we got them cheap. They represent more the style I like.
The big shelf has mainly literary fiction and hardcover mysteries and some cultural history and so forth. The little shelf has also novels, but also almost all of our poetry books. (I was once an avid reader of poetry, but it has faded. I don't exactly know why. Maybe pulp fiction has worn me out.) There are sections for the Latin and Greek authors and biographies and memoirs. The books are not in order, as I said in my earlier post, and I don't really know if I have the energy to alphabetize them. It's kind of fun to try to recognize the books from a distance - what is that between the Chandlers and what is that paperback stucked between Horatio and Homer?
It was actually wrong of me to say that these are the rest of the shelves. There's a little shelf in the kitchen and there are books in the basement and in the attic, too. If the pictures from basement turn out good, I just might post them here.
Em.. that's the laundry in front of the other picture.
Bad points in this include the inescapable fact that there will be no groupies.
Sunday, January 15, 2006
I let you see my desk where I work and write. Now you get to see the book shelves behind my back.
The books are not in order. We moved just about two years ago and still I haven't managed to put them in alphabets. On the right there are the British paperbacks I should be working on at the moment and some other pulpy stuff - such as the translations of Brad Latham's Bill Lockwood novels and related trashy items. And comics and graphic novels in the bottom. (Most of the American paperbacks are in the cellar. Anyone want a picture from there, too?)
On the right, however, there is lots of non-fiction material about diverse matters, such as religion, movies and cinema, philosophy (mainly European), cultural history of booze in Finland, The Holy Blood and Holy Grail (hey, I bought this for 20 cents before I'd read the goddamn code book), Stephen King's Danse Macabre, St. Augustine and Emmanuel Swedenborg... You name it.
In the other picture, there's lots of erotica, from sleaze to literary hardcore. There are also some picture books, such as Eric Stanton. There are also some paperbacks, from Westerns to mysteries, and also some ephemeral stuff, such as the history of The New York Sun I found for 20 cents somewhere. The boxes are full of books that are going to the basement. The large box above everything is a TV set my daughter Ottilia made for herself. It's been used two or three times, but she wouldn't allow it to go to waste. On the left of it, there's a stack of recent paperbacks, with John MacDonald's One Monday We Killed Them All and Alfred Coppel's SF novel Dark December for Fawcett Gold Medal.
(Oops, the pictures are in a wrong order. I wrote first about the shelves in the second picture, then in the first.)
Thursday, January 12, 2006
Lee Goldberg started it. So here's a picture of my (actually ours, since Elina uses this too) working place. Not much of feng shui, huh? On the left there are some reference books, books on first names, Quinlan's Film Directors, a Bible reference book, my own books, the bibliography of Finnish crime literature and so forth. There seems to be my Six Guns on the table, on the left to the keyboard.
Below these there are the kids' books. You can see a cock sitting on something in a cover of Animals on the Farm.
This is in an especially bad shape, since on the table there are things that Kauto has shuffled or pulled away from their place - you can see the wires under the table: he goes in there and starts to pull them. That's why the printer is so badly disjointed (it's the grey box beside the screen). The box under the table that seems to be falling apart - besides being falling apart - is the box for the kids to take papers on which they can draw. I think Kauto has been sitting in it for couple of times.
There's a window on the right. It gives away to the street (we live in the first floor - I don't spend much time browsing porn pages (only with curtains down)) and people can see what we are doing. Maybe my troubles with the TV show got started for doing the decoration too un-feng shui.
I got some old VHS tapes from my dad and one of them was Cyclone, by Fred Olen Ray, the unsung hero of Z film making. I watched this in the course of two weeks, bits here and there every now and then. Last night I sat through the searing climax. Boy oh boy! The Finnish video publication from the eighties must've been cut, because they didn't really show how the guy who shouts "I kill you!" exploded.
The reason I watched was really that it was written - at least the additional material - by Terrill Lankford, under the alias of T.L. Lankford. He's also written that undying classic Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers. And the reason why this interests me is that I'm going to interview the man, perhaps for Pulp, but I have other magazines in mind (only one actually, but let's not talk about that). Lankford is one of the most interesting and most praised new hardboiled writers of his generation, starting from Angry Moon and Shooters and continuing after a few years break with Earthquake Weather and Blonde Lightning. The last two especially shed light on Lankford's own experiences in the fringes of Hollywood. Lankford has also written harsh pieces about the state of publishing in the US in Ed Gorman's blog.
Wednesday, January 11, 2006
Petri Hiltunen who did the magnificent Astounding Stories illustrations below also did this astounding cover for the Finnish Sarjainfo magazine - it's a theme issue about cult, trash, B, grade Z comics. Included is Mytek the Mighty who appeared in Finland under the name of King Kong in paperback sized books.
I was expecting to hear something about your friend Juri´s Pulpografia Britannica project, but I recently read his blog and it looks like he´s doing more in one day than I usually do in six months, so I´m guessing it´s on hold...
It's been on hold, that's true, but I'm getting back to it. I already picked up a George Abercrombie Fox novel by Ken Bulmer as by Adam Hardy.
As I've mentioned here one or two times earlier, I run the Finnish Film Archive's screenings here in Turku. It's a small job and not very well paid, but it's fun to select the films. I just typed the series for the coming Spring and it looks like this:
30.1. Arthur Penn: Bonnie & Clyde (USA 1967)
6.2. Andrei Tarkovski: Andrei Rublev (Soviet Union 1966)
13.2. Akira Kurosawa: Rashomon (Japan 1950)
20.2. Jacques Deray: Flic Story (France 1975)
27.2. Vsevolod Pudovkin: Mother (Soviet Union 1926)
6.3. Clint Eastwood: The Outlaw Josey Wales (USA 1976)
13.3. Francois Truffaut: The Bride Wore Black (France 1968)
20.3. Nicholas Ray: Rebel without a Cause (USA 1955)
27.3. Dziga Vertov: Entusiasm (NL 1931)
3.4. Eric Rohmer: My Night with Maud (France 1969)
10.4. Jean-Marie Straub: The Little Chronic of Anna Magdalena Bach (BRD 1968)
24.4. Michael Curtiz: The Adventures of Robin Hood (USA 1938)
I'd come to see all the films even if I weren't working for them. It's possible that there will be special screenings of some obscure grindhouse movies from the sixties, such as Warner Rose's The Smut Peddler (USA 1965; the film copy in Finland is supposedly the only one existing!). Here's hoping!
I finally finished Allan Guthrie's Two-Way Split yesterday. It's a very fast-moving and tight little noir thriller that's dark as hell. Guthrie absolutely pulls no punches. I thought at times that one of the characters wasn't introduced very well, but then I noticed why - that was a twist I didn't see coming. (Another question is was it necessary to do it this way. I can't discuss it further, though, and not give it away. I think it's enough to say that the original title of the novel would've given away too much.) The book reminds me a bit of Guy Ritchie's movies, but this is definitely sadder and more sensitive, not just banging away.
Tuesday, January 10, 2006
This is Ninni Aalto's (if I understood correctly) illustration for Jaakko Ensio's (ehem ehem) story Mikko Jarmo and the Case of Atomic Structure. It involves Adolf Hitler, dinosaurs, Atlanteans, time travel, a zap gun and telepathic drink. Mikko Jarmo is a Finnish private eye, who goes on a mission to kill the 3-year old Adolf Hitler with the time machine his friend, eccentric scientist Törmä, has invented.
This is the cover of the pulp-style magazine I've mentioned here some times before. It's called Astounding Stories (which translates in Finnish as Äimistyttäviä Tarinoita). The cover is by Petri Hiltunen. The magazine was edited by me and Jukkahoo, but my part in this was due to haste limited to checking upon two stories and writing an editorial and some funny bits mixed with stories. I didn't see all of them coming. One of the stories is mine, but I won't say which one...
The contents run as:
Boris Hurtta: War Cook Bertil in the Service of a Castle Maid
Petri Salin: Madame Spindel
Jaakko Ensio: Mikko Jarmo and the Case of Atomic Structure
Jukka-Petteri Halme: The adventures of Dosent Spermwhale, part 5: The Giant Brain of Titan
Juri Nummelin: The Mutual Journey of Pulp Magazines and Science Fiction (article)
Marko Kivelä: "With an Axe I strike!"
As you can see, it's done with tongue firmly in cheek and some of the stories are downright parody. You can order this through me, but let me again tell you it's in Finnish.
And finally the cover for James Moffatt's Queen Kong novelization. Not many have seen the British film (me included). I hear it's pretty bad. The book has been called the worst novelization ever. The cover illustration is breath-taking, however. (Moffatt was a British paperback hack, who wrote Hank Jasons and the Skinhead books as by Richard Allen. It's not the same guy who translated Bible.)
Here's an another King Kong paperback, this time from the mid-seventies when the new Kong film attacked the cinemas.
The novelization was written by one Delos W. Lovelace (the W stands for Wheeler). (I kind of like the first name Delos.) I was beginning to wonder who he was. It seems that he was a husband of playwright and children's novelist Maud Hart Lovelace. They collaborated on some novels, besides which Delos wrote some other novels and plays on his own. He seems to be pretty forgotten these days, were it not for the Kong book.
I just wonder how he came to have the job. He wasn't an adventure novelist and it seems his stuff has been dated (I haven't read the Kong novel myself, so can't really comment).
John C. Snider writes in Scifi Dimensions that Lovelace's style borders on the ridiculous:
"It's true that any popular fiction from seven decades ago will have some odd-sounding vernacular, but many of the turns of phrase in Lovelace's Kong are downright laughable (at one point Denham "ejaculates" instead of shouting)."
As a departure from the angst of my everyday life, here are some King Kong novelization and tie-in covers. I promised earlier to post the Finnish cover from the seventies, but after buying the book a month ago I seem to have lost track of it. I just can't find it anywhere.
Here's the first paperback edition of the original novelization.
Monday, January 09, 2006
Maybe we'll get now back to the regular schedule of posting about obscure tie-ins and forgotten Finnish pulp hacks.
Friday, January 06, 2006
Wednesday, January 04, 2006
Harold Q. Masur (s. 1909) on arvostettu rikoskirjailija, jonka tunnetuimmat teokset ovat asianajaja Scott Jordanista kertovat kirjat. Jordan on Masurin omien sanojen mukaan risteytys Perry Masonia ja Archie Goodwinia. Kirjat ovat kovaksikeitettyjä; Jordanin erottaa Masonista se, että hän hoitaa itse etsivätyönsä eivätkä kirjat keskity niin paljon oikeussalin tapahtumiin. Masur julkaisi ensimmäisen romaaninsa Bury Me Deep vuonna 1947 ja novelleja vuodesta 1953 alkaen. Hän kirjoitti vielä 1980-luvulla.
Masurilta on suomennettu jatkokertomuksena yksi Scott Jordan -tarina sekä kourallinen novelleja. Jordan seikkailee romaaninmittaisessa tarinassa Kukaan ei elä ikuisesti, jossa hän sekaantuu teatteriväen keskinäiseen vihanpitoon: kirjailija väittää, että häneltä on ryöstetty näytelmä. Jordan käyttää asian selvittelyssä sekä nyrkkejään että päätään ja joutuu usein vaikeuksiin poliisin kanssa. "Petturin palkkio" on toteavaan sävyyn kirjoitettu kolmiodraama, jonka lopussa on pirullinen yllätys. "Bumerangi" on oikeussalidraama, jossa asianajajan todistaja onkin viime hetkellä päättänyt valehdella.
Kukaan ei elä ikuisesti, Apu 43/1954-15/1955.
Bumerangi, RikosPalat 3/1987.
Kahden miljoonan dollarin puolustus, Apu 1/1959. Julkaistu nimellä Harold G. Masur.
Petturin palkkio, Ellery Queenin jännityslukemisto 1/1963.
I just began to wonder what part of my activities I should drop. I have a nagging feeling that I could be more pleased with life if there was less to do. Now, let's take a look at all my jobs and other stuff:
1. I'm going to host a weekly TV show from February to the end of April (and again in September).
2. I'm writing a novel (and have keeping a hiatus on another one and coming back to it after finishing the other one) and have grants for two non-fiction books (the other one is in the middle, the other one is barely started and I have difficulties finding a right style for it).
3. I'm supposedly writing an activities book for young urban adults with Elina. It's commissioned and should be ready by Summer or something like that.
4. I have projects with Elina and some friends, for example a book on flea markets. These are always negotiable and can be delayed if necessary.
5. We've been talking about a book on babies' retro fashion. It should be done quickly, since the fad is at its hottest right now.
6. I edit the magazine of Finnish Western Society, Ruudinsavu (= Gunsmoke). It comes out four times a year.
7. I edit and publish two magazines, Pulp, which contains articles about pulp literature, and Isku, which is actually a pulp magazine. Pulp comes out four times, Isku twice a year.
8. I run the Finnish Film Archive's series here in Turku. The job includes selecting the films, writing about them, making PR, delivering the posters, selling tickets and counting the money. The last three I hate the most, but I love selecting the movies.
9. I do occasional freelance stuff for several magazines, but I've cut that down severely. (I just hated wasting my time on Susanna Clarke's Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell.)
10. I may start editing a crime paperback line for a Finnish publisher. It's not clear when this will start (or "if") and what I'll have to do, but I've been reading possible books lately.
11. I've translated two novels by Jason Starr and one of them is coming out, perhaps next Fall. Not knowing about the other one. I'd like to do more translating, but I don't seem to get publishers' attention or grants. (I tried to get a grant for translation of Russell Banks's Rule of the Bone, but didn't get one.)
12. I've compiled a book on Finnish pulp fiction. I should find two or three more stories, write introductions for the stories and the whole book.
13. I edit books for library publisher BTJ (I just don't have commissions at the moment).
14. Then there's blogging. I host three blogs. It's not actual work, but takes time. Same with occasional self-publications.
I may have forgotten something. Any suggestions on what I should do? If possible, I'd abandon the TV job immediately, because that's not really what I want to do. As you can see, I'm more interested in writing. That's what I know I can do. And want to.
As for the headline of this post, it reminds me of the beginning of this blog. (Which started actually a year ago, I'm not sure when I posted here the first time.) I was thinking I should relax before starting the TV job, but I didn't feel that I'd rested enough during the Christmas holiday. Then I realized, while reading on a couch and trying to get some sleep after a badly-slept night, that what I need now is to get back to work. I had been too long without doing anything. I started immediately to write about the Topi Tuisku book the cover of which I posted here yesterday and got back to my private eye novel. I wrote two pages and felt wonderful. No need for rest! It also took my mind off the TV job, which, I must confess, scares me quite a bit. (This could be a topic of another post.)
The same thing happened last year. I wrote on January 3rd (so the birthday is already passed!):
Usually people have a vacation when they need rest. I decided to start working again when I found out that the vacation had lost its power and I was sleeping badly. I don't know what caused it - was it the Christmas lights or was it just stress over Christmas ending or something like that. Whatever it was, I switched off the (stupid) Xmas lights and started working today at 6:05 am. I wrote bits of the new ending for my novel and then I started doing the layout for Pulp. Then Kauto and Elina woke up and I spent some time with them. Then I did some more work. Now I'm feeling washed out. This blogging seems to be some kind of excuse to delay going to sleep.
It seems I should learn from this: I just can't be and do nothing.
Tuesday, January 03, 2006
Here's the cover of Topi Tuisku's aka Topi Vuorinen's spy paperback Kolauta kohtuullisesti ("Bang Slowly" or something to that effect) that was published in 1970, probably as a self-publication, since Iltakirjat (Evening Books), didn't publish anything else. Vuorinen was a business man and I suspect this was his cover-up firm.
The book is nothing memorable. It's a light story about a freelance agent Mikko Sirkkula and his buddy, Max Want, who try to locate secret rocket plans somewhere in Portugal. At one point the spies are dressed as monks, hence the cover illo.
Monday, January 02, 2006
You shouldn't really tamper with memories.
The story called "Only for a Statue" had an interesting set-up, though: the hero, Joe Stone, is an aspiring screenwriter-actor, who gets mixed up in some intrigue about a statue someone has smuggled into the US (shades of The Maltese Falcon, which is - again - acknowledged). Stone moves about in the B-movie business, which shows that I've been fascinated by it for over twenty years. (Keep in mind that my unpublished novel about Joe Novak is about the late fifties B-movie business. I've written about it here earlier, but can't seem to find the post.)
The picture of the business isn't very accurate in the story. It's actually more on the unintentionally humorous side. The story begins with Stone typing away his latest manuscript. He finishes the story, rolls out the last page, puts it in the envelope and takes it to his agent! Talk about rewriting! And listen to this: the guy says he hasn't had a decent job for a long time, yet he's had two scripts produced! (His script, by the way, is about "a man whom the police and criminals mistake for a big time operator and try to catch him"... Sounds great, doesn't it?) I couldn't finish the story. And it was long as hell, almost something like 10 000 words!
The other one was called "I, Gumshoe" (how did I come up with these titles?). The hero was called Philip Hunter - you guessed it, a P.I. The guy falls in love with his client (with a great name, Zeena Cassavetes) immediately. (In one scene he says: "Hi, pretty ass!" What the f..?)
All the girls in these stories look like disco chicks from the late seventies, even though there's a certain eighties charm when they use over-sized sweaters. (Mixed with silver PVC trousers and high heels, they certainly add a charm to a lady.) Zeena Cassavetes's sister is being blackmailed, but Zeena has one advantage over the blackmailer: she knows his name. Of course, everyone else does it, because he told it to the sister! I can't believe this.
And both of my heroes listen to garage rock or blues all the time. Even when Philip Hunter has to race over to the Cassavetes house, he puts on an Ann Barton tape.
There were also of course some baddies. You could recognize them from their names: Lamont Bangwhistle and Thomas Lightbody. (Later in the story, Philip Hunter talks with another P.I. who knows the Cassavetes family: "Why would a blackmailer give away his name, if it wasn't a fake one?" "Wanna guess if that makes me wonder? But what if it's really Lamont Bangwhistle? With that name you can easily be led astray." "Nah, I don't think so. Drop the case." "Like shit I will. Wanna know if I need the money or not?"*)
By the way, it seems that the end of 1985 was very productive for me. Both of these were written in March and December of the said year.
* Dialogue much improved from the original.
This is the Rafael De Soto cover I mentioned earlier (for Dan Logan's Mad Maverick). It's pretty static, but the guy looks downright sleazy and mean.
Kari Elkelä should know more, but this is the first instance I know of De Soto having been published here. I couldn't find the original source for this.
It's just funny that the plot of the story was taken straight out of The Neon Haystack! Waits gets a client, who is on a search for his lost kid brother and wants to use Waits's services to find about people who he thinks are involved in the case. Waits agrees, but the client is soon hijacked (in the middle of the day in his hotel, which felt pretty stupid). There's a good plot twist, which I might use someday if I ever decide to write about private eyes again (other than Joe Novak, my series hero), but the dialogue is stilted and naive and everything happens too fast.
As for Ullman's novel, I acknowledge the debt by having Waits mention it!
The story was left unfinished, because it took a turn which now seems wrong and probably did at the time. I should've gone back and rewritten it, but at the time I was too lazy to do a thing like that. (I still am, I'm sorry to say.) I'd reread it some time before and written on the notebook: "Rewrite! Good stuff! One of the best of JN!"
Accidentally, the story was written almost exactly 20 years ago, from 30.12.1985 to 1.2.1986.
From there came these:
The Collected Stories of Dorothy Parker (I've never read any Parker and there are no translations (unless something in mags and anthologies), but her work has been regarded highly, at least once was)
Terry Southern & Mason Hoffenberg: Candy (I have this in translation, but this one is a paperback tie-in, with Ewa Aulin in the cover saying "Good grief! Me a movie!"; the book is actually one of the rare instances in the US in which a big prestige house is doing a paperback, this time it's G.P. Putnam & Sons)
Ed McBain: Big Man (originally published as by Richard Marsten in McBain's/Evan Hunter's early days in 1959)
Jerry Cohen & William S. Murphy: Burn, Baby, Burn! The Watts Riot (one of those books I don't know what I'm gonna do with them, but couldn't resist buying a book about the racial riots in America)
F. Van Wyck Mason: Proud New Flags (a Civil War novel, from an old pulpster and historical novelist; a Cardinal Giant paperback from Pocket Books that a previous owner had bound with ugly hardcovers, luckily having the original cover intact)
Robert B. Parker: Valediction (I haven't liked any of Parker's books I've read, but this one was only 20 cents, so what the heck? If I read it as quickly as the others, it will take only two hours... Sounds like we have to get the summer cabin we've been dreaming about recently so that I can take books like this there)
Susan Cooper: The Grey King, in translation (one of the books in the classical YA fantasy series; I haven't read this, but I've picked up other parts of the series very cheaply)
Cornelia Otis Skinner: Madame Sarah (the biography of Sarah Bernhardt; again, I won't probably read this, other than skimming it from time to time, but with 20 cents I couldn't resist, since the dustjacket was intact, albeit a bit spoiled)
Just before Christmas, I got from Tapani the Point Blank Press and Hard Case Crime books I'd asked him to order:
Peter Pavia: Dutch Uncle (a drug novel)
Max Phillips: Fade to Blonde (serious novelist's attempt at an old-style hardboiled paperback - I've heard nothing but good about this)
Domenic Stansberry: The Confession (controversial book about a serial killer who attacks women)
Anthony Neil Smith: Psychosomatic (pretty weird-sounding new noir debut)
Dave Zeltserman: Fast Lane (one of the most praised new private eye writers; said to mix Ross Macdonald and Jim Thompson's psychotic heroes)
I would've been interested in these no matter what, but I'm seriously digging into the new noir and hardboiled, since all of the mentioned (and others too, such as Ray Banks and James Reasoner) are on my possible list for the maybe-to-come paperback line in Finnish that I'm possibly about to start editing. (Sounds vague, doesn't it?)
Sunday, January 01, 2006
Hubert Selby: Last Exit to Brooklyn (I read this some 15 years ago, but for some reason have never bought the book; the Finnish translation is a bit of a rarity, someone should reissue it)
Elmore Leonard: La Brava (the Finnish translation is bad, so I decided I need the English version)
Elmore Leonard: Rum Punch, in translation (I'm not sure if I have this already, but this cost only 20 cents, so what the heck)
Irving Shulman: The Notorious Landlady (Fawcett Gold Medal # 1197; Shulman's novelization of the Robert Quine film from the Margery Sharp short story; somewhat criminous comedy; Shulman also wrote the novelization of West Side Story and some tough-guy novels and films, too)
Gypsy Rose Lee: Gypsy. A Memoir (this came with four or five Swedish Western paperbacks and Konrad Lorenz's Man and Dog, for only 25 cents for the whole pack! I just had to pick them up...)
Winston Groom: Better Times than These (I have a small collection of novels about the Vietnam war; only later I realized that Groom wrote Forrest Gump, which I absolutely and dearly hated)
Edwin P. Hoyt: Farlig kust (Swedish translation of Hellfire in Napoli, Pinnacle 197-something; this goes to Pulp to be used as an illustration in the pirate issue; it seems that Edwin P. Hoyt is (or was?) really a naval war historian, who penned also some war paperbacks)
Kimberly Kemp: Operation Sex, in translation (I pick up every copy of sixties/seventies sleaze paperbacks I see and this one was in a great condition and the Cocktail series in which it was published has become rather rare these days; I don't know who Kemp is - probably Earl Kemp himself?!)
Virginia Woolf: Flush. A biography (you don't have any other blog in which these two titles are mentioned in the same post!)
Mike McCray: D.C. Death March, in translation (stupid looking men's adventure stuff from the early eighties, written by openly gay Michael McDowell under a house pseudonym)
Dan Logan: Mad Maverick, in translation (short Australian digest-sized Western paperback, bought mainly for the Rafael De Soto artwork - will post the scan later on)
Carter Brown: Busted Wheeler, in translation (one of the later entries in the long series, with sexed-up plots)
Ville Paakonmaa: Bileamin varjo (= The Shadow of Bileam), a self-published Finnish fantasy novel from 1972
Wayne D. Overholser: The Bitter Night, in translation (one of the better Western paperbackers of the fifties and sixties)
Norman Hartley: The Viking Process, in translation (a spy novel from the seventies, bought mainly for the great Finnish cover illustration by one Pekka Hesanto, which I will post in due time)
Evan Hunter: The Blackboard Jungle, in translation (for some reason, I've never read this)
Stephen Frances: This Woman Is Death, in translation (from the inventor of Hank Janson, one of the books in Frances' late John Gail series; I was very, very fond of his The Sad and Tender Flesh from the same series)
Peter Townend: Fisheye, in translation (a British thriller from early seventies, published in Finnish as a paperback)
Maysie Greig: Cloak and Dagger Love, in translation (a romance paperback from a veteran of the genre; I'll be doing an article about romance writers who started out in pulps and Greig is one of them)
Janet Evanovich: Manhunt, in translation (the bestselling novelist's early romance paperback; Evanovich is of course best known for her Stephanie Plum series of humorous crime novels)
Willo Davis Roberts: Nurse Kay's Conquest, in translation (Roberts is one of the most revered romance paperback writers - or actually was, since she died in 2004)
That was only the first stack... there's at least another one waiting for me... (I'll continue this tomorrow.)
One of the best finds was Daniel Paul Schreber's Memoir of My Nervous Illness (Dawson & Sons, 1955, with a dustjacket). Schreber's book is about his nervous breakdown in 1884 and his time in the mental institution. Freud used the book very much and it's become somewhat of a cult item. I found this for 20 cents - Abebooks has some ten copies of the same edition, with the cheapest one being 35 $! I'll give the book away to my friend Jussi, who said he will use it his studies. He needs it more than I do, even though I'd certainly love to have the book of this kind in my shelves.
I finally finished reading The Neon Haystack during the holiday. I had read it already through the middle, but there were days when I was too busy travelling or opening Christmas presents and I didn't get to the book until almost a week later.
It wasn't the only reason for the delonging, because the book had started to drag and get talkative. It's quite a good book, though, and worth saving from oblivion. It's about a man who comes to a middle-sized Midwest town to search for his kid brother who was last seen in the notorious Clay Street district of the town. Steve Kolchak stirs up dirt in the town during his search. The novel comes near the subgenre of cleaning-up-the-town novels, but actually Kolchak accomplishes nothing in that respect. The mystery unravels elsewhere. Medium-boiled, a tad sexist, but certainly worth a read.
Not much has been written about Ullman. He came second in the Edgar contest for the best debut novel with The Neon Haystack (the first one was Cornelius Hirschberg, about whose sort-of-a-P.I. novel Florentine Finish I may yet to write here) and won the Inner Sanctum prize with same. The Neon Haystack was published in French in the Gallimard Série Noire line, which is always a recommendation.
Here's what Mr. Steve Lewis of Mystery*File found out:
Ullman (1925-1997) was a journalist for the Chicago Tribune. Much of his fiction takes place in Chicago.
The Neon Haystack,1963. Edgar nominee for Best First Novel,1964. (Winner: Florentine Finish, by Cornelius Hirschberg)
Good Night, Irene, 1965. A plot description from Abebooks: Ex-call girl Irene Brown is murder for one of the oldest reasons. A young reporter, Pete Ames, whose carelessness hastened her death, feels bound to avenge her. He assure that among her ex-clientele of businessmen and racketeer's he will find the right man. The deeper he digs into Irene's unsavory past, the longer becomes his list of suspects. Any of them could of done it. But the more he probes into the lives of the suspects, the surer Pete becomes that only one of them would have done it, for Irene had a hold on that one man, a hold so strong that only her death to break it. [Translated as Hyvää yötä Irene in 1967. I have the book and will read it in due time and post a review.]
The Venus Trap, 1966. Rudy Chakorian, financial wizard intent on personal gain, disappears with a fortune in diamonds, leaving his small son and business partner to suffer the consequences for his misdeeds. Considerable information concerning stock manipulation following World War II gives the novel appeal to an audience interested in business affairs. Much of the action is set in Chicago; however, the setting is not essential to the plot.
Lady on Fire, 1968. Private detective Julian Forbes is in Chicago looking for a missing girl, when his secretary-mistress is murdered, apparently because she has viewed some photos of the girl. The case becomes complicated when a merchandising magnate is implicated, and Julian finds that he is being followed by five ruthless thugs.
Ullman also did this (I'm not entirely sure if it's really him, but I have no reason to doubt): How to Hold a Garage Sale: Everything you need to know to make your sale easy, successful and fun (1981).