Friday, March 13, 2009

Forgotten Short Story Friday: Tom Blackburn and George Michener

As Patti Abbott suggested, this Friday's Forgotten prose entries should be about short stories. I thought immediately about two western short stories that stuck to my mind when I was researching the Finnish pulp and other fictionmags some years back writing my books Six Guns and Five Guns (the latter is exclusively about short stories in magazines). The other story is by Tom Blackburn, the other one is by George Michener.

Tom Blackburn is better known of the two. He lived from 1926 to 1997 and wrote pulp stories from the thirties on. Later he did lots of novels, both in paperback and hardback. He was never a bestseller, but he's a firm part of the fifties' western renaissance that was heavily featured in paperback originals.

The one short story I've read from Blackburn is called "Then There Were None". It appeared in Dime Western, July 1950 (and the Finnish translation came in Seikkailujen Maailma 7/1956). It's a gripping noir story, with full of violence and unexpected twists, all in a very short form, handled convincingly. The story starts with the boss of the criminal gang waking up and killing one of his mates and trying to convince the others that the dead man attempted to shoot him. Involved is a stupid young boy who idolizes these gangsters. As noir as a western can be.

Now, George Michener we know nothing about. He wrote primarily westerns for the short story market, starting from the mid-thirties and magazines like West and Ace-High Magazine, and giving up in the early fifties. His one story was called in the Finnish translation "The Scarface's Revenge" (Seikkailujen Maailma 10/1951), which doesn't match those found in the Fictionmags Index. It's a great story nevertheless: Scarface, mentally and fysically disturbed criminal, returns to his old haunts and gathers up his old gang, but they have a new boss. He decides to kidnap the sheriff's kid - and it turns out the sheriff is Scarface's half-brother. Very violent and disturbing - a noir western in the mold of Blackburn's story above.

PS. Just thought to Google and found this. I didn't know that Blackburn wrote lyrics for Disney films!


Todd Mason said...

Oh, some folks, such as Bill Crider, just chose to go ahead and do a Forgotten Book, if not short story, anyway. As one who has covered the Friday wrap-up for her previously, I considered posting a wrap-up on her blog anyway.

Always more shorts stories to rediscover in April!

Juri said...

Okay, thanks for letting me know. And do post a wrap-up!

pattinase (abbott) said...

Juri-I will come back and collect this on April 10th. Great stories. Patti

David Cranmer said...

You have mentioned authors I'm familiar with but stories I'm not. Mental note has been duly recorded in my mostly reliable noggin’.

Juri said...

David, don't mix George and James Michener. I don't think anyone's ever done any research on George Michener and I don't think anyone knows anything about him and his writings. As far as I'm concerned, I've been the only one who has written on him. (Once before I wrote about him on an e-mail list.)