Thursday, July 12, 2007

A major disappointment

I've given out misleading information. I thought Paul Malmont's The Chinatown Death Cloud Peril would be great, just what I wanted to read - but no. Hell, not indeed! I had to drop it even though I'd managed to make over the first half. The idea of writing a book about a couple of thirties' pulp writers (namely Walter Gibson, the creator of The Shadow, Lester Dent, the creator Doc Savage, and L. Ron Hubbard, the creator of, well, Dianetics; if you didn't know, he was a very prolific pulp writer in the thirties) is thrilling and intriguing, but Malmont can't get much out of it.

The book would've been better if Malmont would've written a mainstream novel about these authors and dropped the pulpish action bits which he couldn't handle interestingly enough. He has to resort to subplots and such which make the book slow down. Even the beginning, which should set the tone and put forth the mystery, didn't really grab my attention. The best scenes are with L. Ron Hubbard, who is clearly a liar and an opportunist, but it seems that Malmont holds the man in high regard based on what he says in his afterword.

What troubled me most is that Malmont felt necessary to drop authors' names and histories of publishing houses, such as Street & Smith. Some of these are absolutely unnecessary, such as mentioning Norman A. Daniels in one paragraph. And Malmont has a very annoying habit to make people talk about these matters in length in dialogue (one of the most boring scenes is the one in which L. Ron Hubbard talks about writing science fiction to a guy called Robert Heinlein who, in the book, hasn't as yet started his career as a novelist). It reminded me of goddamned The Da Vinci Code!

3 comments:

Bill Crider said...

Your opinion of this one pretty much matches mine. Or maybe you were even more disappointed than I was. I really wanted to like the book, but I didn't.

C.B. James said...

I liked the book more than you all did, but you're basically right.

I found myself skimming over much of the pulp stuff. I just wanted to see how it all ended and be done with it finally.

I Michael Chabon did a much better job with this same idea in Kavelier and Clay.

http://www.readywhenyouarecb.blogspot.com

Juri said...

I'd've really been interested in the pulp stuff if Malmont had written the stuff in a more interesting manner - now it's more like lecturing. That was the basic reason I didn't like the book - with of course the dull plot.