Saturday, August 30, 2014

Pulp According to David Goodis: Goodis's Philadelphia

left: The Earle Theater in central Philadelphia in 1937, when Goodis was 18. A fine photo (click on image for full view) showing the energy of the crowd and the way the theater competed for their attention.

center: 12th and Arch--Philly's "Barbary Coast," in the 40s.

right: Conga dancing on Arch Street. The woman in this photo was taken into custody for "indecent" activity.

Pulp According to David Goodis: Mistress of the White Slave King

DG's PULP STORIES--A LISTING
Goodis’ work appeared largely in two kinds of pulps. He was a sort of king of the “air war” genre (rather as H Ron Hubbard was king of sci-fi yarns): Army-Navy Flying Stories, Fighting Aces, RAF Aces, Flying Aces, Wings, Battle Birds, Dare Devil Aces, Captain Combat, The Lone Eagle.

Collector and author Walker Martin estimates that he may have written 100 air war stories. Since he developed a reputation among publishers of this genre, when one or more stories under the house names Byron P Short, Roy C Raney, David Crewe, Logan C. Claybourne, Roy Shotwell, and/or Lance Kermit appeared in an issue carrying a story attributed to Goodis, that story might also be by Goodis. But it needs to be kept in mind that if a pulp in any genre did not have a tale credited to Goodis, the house names just listed might hide the identity of another writer—William Campbell Gault is one example.

The following are crime pulps in which his work appeared under his own name: Detective Yarns, 10 Story Gang, Crack Detective, True Crime, True Gangster Stories, G-men Detective, Detective Fiction Weekly, Sinister Stories. There may of course be more under the various house names. Due to similarities in theme, word choice, and incident, some of these prefigure his novels, as Adrian Wooten knew when he selected some of them for inclusion in the Serpent’s Tail volume he edited. Pulps using Goodis sports stories included Popular Sports Magazine, New Sports Magazine, and Sports Novels. There was a weird menace tale in Sinister Stories, and a fine exotic adventure set in the Arabian Desert in the slick-paper Colliers.
Garnier discovered that Goodis probably wrote, in the mid-1940s, between 3000 and 5000 words per 8-hour day (50). In an interview he gave in the Temple University student newspaper in 1947, Goodis said he wrote more than 5 million words for the pulps in the previous 5 years

Photo: DG's PULP STORIES--A LISTING
Goodis’ work appeared largely in two kinds of pulps. He was a sort of king of the “air war” genre (rather as H Ron Hubbard was king of sci-fi yarns): Army-Navy Flying Stories, Fighting Aces, RAF Aces, Flying Aces, Wings, Battle Birds, Dare Devil Aces, Captain Combat, The Lone Eagle. 

Collector and author Walker Martin estimates that he may have written 100 air war stories. Since he developed a reputation among publishers of this genre, when one or more stories under the house names Byron P Short, Roy C Raney, David Crewe, Logan C. Claybourne, Roy Shotwell, and/or Lance Kermit appeared in an issue carrying a story attributed to Goodis, that story might also be by Goodis. But it needs to be kept in mind that if a pulp in any genre did not have a tale credited to Goodis, the house names just listed might hide the identity of another writer—William Campbell Gault is one example. 

The following are crime pulps in which his work appeared under his own name: Detective Yarns, 10 Story Gang, Crack Detective, True Crime, True Gangster Stories, G-men Detective, Detective Fiction Weekly, Sinister Stories. There may of course be more under the various house names. Due to similarities in theme, word choice, and incident, some of these prefigure his novels, as Adrian Wooten knew when he selected some of them for inclusion in the Serpent’s Tail volume he edited. Pulps using Goodis sports stories included Popular Sports Magazine, New Sports Magazine, and Sports Novels. There was a weird menace tale in Sinister Stories, and a fine exotic adventure set in the Arabian Desert in the slick-paper Colliers. 
Garnier discovered that Goodis probably wrote, in the mid-1940s, between 3000 and 5000 words per 8-hour day (50). In an interview he gave in the Temple University student newspaper in 1947, Goodis said he wrote more than 5 million words for the pulps in the previous 5 years

Pulp According to David Goodis: Fighting Aces



Photo: SOME OF GOODIS’ PULP “AIR WAR” STORIES 

“The Ceiling of Hell.” _Fighting Aces_, Nov 1940.  Commercial aviator Jim Hallet, once a brawler who lost his job for punching his boss, wants to “see what was wrong with this blamed war.” He becomes an ambulance driver in England (thanks to a “dame  with blue eyes and blonde hair.” Subsequently, with almost fanatic daring (you can’t stop a determined Yank), Jim takes over a Spitfire, with super effectiveness. 

“Killer Ace.” _The Lone Eagle_, Feb 1941.  Von Krim, ace German pilot, “looked like Satan himself” as he shrieked in delight as “the death-line of bullets reached the cockpit.” Two 2 survivor “English boys”, with “tears of sorrow, tears of rage, tears of vengeance” take after them but get only “snarling slugs of death.” Sam Kern is the only one out of seven who came back—a Yank at Oxford. Kern says the only way to deal with Von Krim is to kill him on the ground—to hell with any code.  

“Cloud Buster.” “Ray P. Shotwell” (that there is a story credited to Goodis in this issue indicates he used the house name Shotwell on this occasion).  _Fighting Aces_ May 1944.  Ray Howell’s brother was shot out of the sky by Fokkers, and he is taking the place of his now desk-bound sibling in his outfit. Ray does not know it, but his brother has requested that the fliers test Ray by being obstreperous to him. so that he would be “transformed into a killer-—bitter and raging to the point where he was all ice.”

“Blood for the Hawks of Hitler.” Logan Claybourne” (another house name used by Goodis, although it might hide the identity of another prolific pulpster, Steve Fisher, who has a story in this issue). _Fighting Aces_, Nov. 1940. 
After the fall of France, two-fisted, short-tempered Nick Reilly joins the RAF. Major Kroelke, the German ace, “all arrogance and self-pride,” with a devil’s pitchfork insignia below his cockpit, shoots down the intrepid Nick.  Improbably, he jumps from his burning plane, does a perfect dive into the North Sea, and is picked up by the Germans. He overhears a Bosch plot to attack key facilities in the north of England. The Yank radios the German ace that he is on his tail. Kroelke’s plane is soon “breaking out in a case of flame disease.” 

“Kid Brother”, RAF Aces (Canadian), Dec 1944
The kid is a conscientious objector. He is thought, of course, to be a coward. After an altercation with a soldier at an airfield, which leads to the latter being killed in the Nazi raid, the kid visits the man’s widow. He is told that if he is sorry, he should go fight for his country.  So he does, out of remorse at his part in the soldier’s death. 

**While the conscientious objector story line is daring in an air war yarn, it pales in comparison with Steve Fisher’s “For My Country” (_Fighting Aces_, November 1940), set during World War I.** 
 Flier Marvin Miller must watch while his brother is executed for cowardice. He refused to engage a German pilot and flew away. The reason was, the condemned man confides to his brother, that a third brother, John, was flying the German bi-plane. He had been in Germany in 1914 and impressed into the air force. Now the same dilemma staggers Marvin. On first sighting his brother, he begs off, explaining that his guns jammed. But the next day, as John waves at him from his cockpit, Marvin dispatches his brother’s plane. Fisher ends with an irony that is most remarkable for escaping the eye of his editor. Weeping, he tells the empty sky he “couldn’t help it. It was for mom, and – for my country.”

“ The Cloud Wizard,” Sky Raiders, February 1943: Bersbee was a leader of his RAF squadron, with 27 kills. He gave the other flyers confidence they had to have. He did not like the idolization. A reclusive soul who never executed playboy-type spins and sharp dives, he was a detached, severe individual. One flyer, Meader, wants to speak with him. He learns of the pressure Bersbee is under as he tried to figure out the math formulae that will make him and the group successful. The next day Bersbee dies in his Spitfire, refusing, as Meader knew he would, to bail out. And Meader takes Bersbee’s place as the anxious lone wolf, existing with the slide rule and mathematical calculations that he uses to perfect the flying skills that save many men, as he dives from the clouds to surprise the Nazis. He is the new larger-than-life super hero with the same secret life that eventually martyred his predecessor.

SOME OF GOODIS’ PULP “AIR WAR” STORIES
“The Ceiling of Hell.” _Fighting Aces_, Nov 1940. Commercial aviator Jim Hallet, once a brawler who lost his job for punching his boss, wants to “see what was wrong with this blamed war.” He becomes an ambulance driver in England (thanks to a “dame with blue eyes and blonde hair.” Subsequently, with almost fanatic daring (you can’t stop a determined Yank), Jim takes over a Spitfire, with super effectiveness.
“Killer Ace.” _The Lone Eagle_, Feb 1941. Von Krim, ace German pilot, “looked like Satan himself” as he shrieked in delight as “the death-line of bullets reached the cockpit.” Two 2 survivor “English boys”, with “tears of sorrow, tears of rage, tears of vengeance” take after them but get only “snarling slugs of death.” Sam Kern is the only one out of seven who came back—a Yank at Oxford. Kern says the only way to deal with Von Krim is to kill him on the ground—to hell with any code.
“Cloud Buster.” “Ray P. Shotwell” (that there is a story credited to Goodis in this issue indicates he used the house name Shotwell on this occasion). _Fighting Aces_ May 1944. Ray Howell’s brother was shot out of the sky by Fokkers, and he is taking the place of his now desk-bound sibling in his outfit. Ray does not know it, but his brother has requested that the fliers test Ray by being obstreperous to him. so that he would be “transformed into a killer-—bitter and raging to the point where he was all ice.”
“Blood for the Hawks of Hitler.” Logan Claybourne” (another house name used by Goodis, although it might hide the identity of another prolific pulpster, Steve Fisher, who has a story in this issue). _Fighting Aces_, Nov. 1940.
After the fall of France, two-fisted, short-tempered Nick Reilly joins the RAF. Major Kroelke, the German ace, “all arrogance and self-pride,” with a devil’s pitchfork insignia below his cockpit, shoots down the intrepid Nick. Improbably, he jumps from his burning plane, does a perfect dive into the North Sea, and is picked up by the Germans. He overhears a Bosch plot to attack key facilities in the north of England. The Yank radios the German ace that he is on his tail. Kroelke’s plane is soon “breaking out in a case of flame disease.”
“Kid Brother”, RAF Aces (Canadian), Dec 1944
The kid is a conscientious objector. He is thought, of course, to be a coward. After an altercation with a soldier at an airfield, which leads to the latter being killed in the Nazi raid, the kid visits the man’s widow. He is told that if he is sorry, he should go fight for his country. So he does, out of remorse at his part in the soldier’s death.
**While the conscientious objector story line is daring in an air war yarn, it pales in comparison with Steve Fisher’s “For My Country” (_Fighting Aces_, November 1940), set during World War I.**
Flier Marvin Miller must watch while his brother is executed for cowardice. He refused to engage a German pilot and flew away. The reason was, the condemned man confides to his brother, that a third brother, John, was flying the German bi-plane. He had been in Germany in 1914 and impressed into the air force. Now the same dilemma staggers Marvin. On first sighting his brother, he begs off, explaining that his guns jammed. But the next day, as John waves at him from his cockpit, Marvin dispatches his brother’s plane. Fisher ends with an irony that is most remarkable for escaping the eye of his editor. Weeping, he tells the empty sky he “couldn’t help it. It was for mom, and – for my country.”
“ The Cloud Wizard,” Sky Raiders, February 1943: Bersbee was a leader of his RAF squadron, with 27 kills. He gave the other flyers confidence they had to have. He did not like the idolization. A reclusive soul who never executed playboy-type spins and sharp dives, he was a detached, severe individual. One flyer, Meader, wants to speak with him. He learns of the pressure Bersbee is under as he tried to figure out the math formulae that will make him and the group successful. The next day Bersbee dies in his Spitfire, refusing, as Meader knew he would, to bail out. And Meader takes Bersbee’s place as the anxious lone wolf, existing with the slide rule and mathematical calculations that he uses to perfect the flying skills that save many men, as he dives from the clouds to surprise the Nazis. He is the new larger-than-life super hero with the same secret life that eventually martyred his predecessor.

Friday, August 29, 2014

The World of Noir Wax at NoirCon




Sigrid Sarda constructs life-size human figures made of wax incorporating human remains in the tradition of the doll as a magical object. The figures become talismans, reliquaries housing human bones. Each tableaux, in tradition of the diorama, is peppered with the grotesque, comic and at times empathetic life-size characters along with backdrops of popular cultural and biblical icons, engaging in what our culture deems acceptable by today's standards. Borrowing from fables, allegories and fairytales Sarda creates nightmarish vignettes of her own personal malaise blurring the lines of the assumption of the hero/villain and the universal concepts of archetypical imagery. With her characteristic dark humor, Sarda creates a world of flipped morality and a decaying system of values run amok. 








10 Best Patricia Highsmith Books by Joan Schenkar PUBLISHERS WEEKLY


10 Best Patricia Highsmith Books
By Joan Schenkar | Aug 29, 2014
Joan Schenkar is the author of the must­read biography The Talented Miss Highsmith: The Secret Life and Serious Art of Patricia Highsmith, a New York Times Notable Book. With the
release of the new movie, The Two Faces of January, based on Highsmith's novel, we asked Schenkar to rank the best of the author's books.

"It is impossible," wrote Patricia Highsmith (1921-1995), the Dark Lady of American Letters (and double trouble for a biographer) "for me to live from day to day without putting myself to a judgement…"
And so, five to seven sheets of finished fiction rolled from the platen of her coffee-colored Olympia Deluxe portable typewriter every morning; the keys detonating like little pistol shots under her huge hands.
She typed each page twice--for neatness, she said (her inner chaos required a Head Librarian's habits)--channeling the news she brought back from the ends of her nerves into the booby-trapped plots, double-gated psychologies, and reflective "realities" of her nearly 30 published volumes of fiction. She produced an iconic character in The Talented Mr. Ripley, but the hundreds of raspingly acute portraits of quietly transgressive acts punctuating her other novels have added a new terror to "mid-century modern."
Her great invention was Highsmith Country, the Alternate Earth where all her detail-saturated fictions are set. There, good intentions corrupt naturally; guilt afflicts the innocent; pursuit is everywhere; identities, genders, and genres are undermined; and life is a suffocating trap from which even her most accomplished escape artists cannot find a graceful exit.
Filmmakers have been strip-mining her novels for decades, unable except in three or four instances to crack her codes. Even the masterpiece Alfred Hitchcock made of her own masterpiece, Strangers On a Train, couldn't quite face the quintessential Highsmith Situation: two men bound together by a stalker-like fixation which always involves a murderous, implicitly homoerotic fantasy.
Hossein Amini's new film of The Two Faces of January is an exception: better than its eponymous novel because it fracks the work (which writhes uncomfortably in over-complicated coils) for a Noir plot, a damaging Highsmithian premise, and some stylish period smoking. But even Pat's excesses compel for their obsessions: murder is always on her mind and she always confuses it with love.

Here, in publication order, are some of Pat Highsmith's–and the twentieth century's­­ most delinquently original novels. They've haunted me for years.

1. Strangers on a Train (1950) ­ This remarkable debut novel takes Pat's double­ indemnifying nugget–strangers who agree to exchange murders and "get away with it"–and settles it
on Guy Haines, a brilliant architect whose moody purity invites corruption, and Charles Bruno, a
psychopathic, subliterate mastermind who yearns to join him. In their tranced, mutual, psychological seduction, these Terrible Twins vacate their characters, mingle their identities, and misdirect their pursuers in as thorough an anatomy of guilt as can be found in modern literature.

2. The Price of Salt (as Claire Morgan, 1952) ­ Pat, who died for love a 
thousand times in life, killed for it in every novel except this one. But murder is in the brilliant metaphors, and the richly­figured language borrows elements from Strangers and subdues them to requited lesbian love­­the only "crime" she never wrote about.  Salt glows with a luminous halo of incest, a little light pedophilia, and sexual consummations that are spied upon, recorded, and prosecuted. But Carol and Therese, its steely, attractive, successful heroines, get away with their "crime" in a fascinating novel that made its author uneasy all her life.

3. The Blunderer (1954) ­ With her adept's feel for sado­masochistic relations, Pat focused this unusual work on role reversals. When slim, anglified Walter Stackhouse blunders
in on fat, foreign Otto Kimmel's wife­murder and is infected by it, they become each other's unlikely Alter
Egos; sharing the sluggish libidos and ambiguous affections Highsmith gives to all her male characters.  Walter implicates himself in a crime he hasn't committed, kills the wrong man, and blunders into his own death in a pursuit stranger than fiction.

4. The Talented Mr. Ripley (1955) ­ My candidate for the Great American Novel­­and Highsmith Country's best known ambassador. Tom Ripley, a socially sinuous, fragilely­ gendered serial killer/forger/fraudster/identity impersonator, shares his confusion of love and murder and
his passion for “the best” in life with his author. When Pat turned the plot of Henry James The Ambassadors upside down to give Ripley a handsome, poised, trust­funder to reclaim from Europe (Tom kills Dickie Greenleaf instead of kissing him, then assumes his identity), she infused her favorite sociopath with her own, special interpretation of the American Dream.

5. Deep Water (1957) ­ A brilliantly uncomfortable novel whose resident
psychopath, Vic Van Allen, refuses sex, cooks and cleans his family home wearing an apron, takes care of his child, murders two of his wife's lovers, and–he's a completist–kills his wife as well. His major excitements: observing the slow copulations of his companion snails, allowing his pet bedbugs to draw his blood, and fostering rumors that he's a killer avant la lettre.

6. This Sweet Sickness (1960) ­ One of Highsmith's most interesting novels, this is the story of a psychopath who creates a double identity and two addresses to match it. He builds a house for (and an entirely imaginary relationship with) the woman who obsesses him­­then steps out of his dream to murder her husband.An unusually vivid scene: William Neumeister walks into Romeo Salta's in Manhattan and orders two complete Italian dinners: one for himself, and one for the woman only he can see.

7. The Cry of the Owl (1962) ­ After a bruising marriage (and as hesitant to sleep with the opposite sex as any other Highsmith male), Robert Forester becomes a reluctant, gentle stalker whose "innocent" act of voyeurism brings a vengeful pursuer (and a vengeful ex­wife) to haunt him,
and catastrophe and death to everyone he knows. Pat's most spectral novel. 

8. The Tremor of Forgery (1969) ­ What happens to a writer–decent, indecisive Howard Ingam from Greenwich Village (for once, not a psychopath)­­when he finds himself in North Africa without known customs or a familiar language? One thing that happens: moral codes and
violent acts become meaningless and Howard throws a duplicate of Pat's own typwriter at a thief (her pleasure in this is palpable) and kills him.

9. Ripley Under Ground (1970) ­ Like other shortcuts to transformation, forgery fascinated High smith; under the surface of this second Ripley novel is a credible aesthetic argument in favor of forged art. Ripley, married now to an heiress (her golden hair reminds him of money)
but preferring the company of criminal males, is involved in an international forgery operation which requires him to impersonate a dead artist, murder an art collector (with a bottle of vintage wine), and dispose of the corpse of his favorite forger. "I'm afraid to say how much I like it," Pat wrote. I like it too.

10. Pat's ambivalence is contagious: here are three novels whose style sometimes drives me to kickscreams (the push­broom of her paragraphs sweeps up too many flat facts or ropey plots) but whose themes are riveting. Suspension of Mercy (1965): An American novelist in Suffolk
cannot refrain from replacing his life's dullish realities with the homicidal narratives he wants for his work.  Those Who Walk Away (1967): Two men, mourning the same suicided woman, seek their own–and each other's ­­death in Venice. Edith's Diary (1977): : A mild­ mannered woman slips into madness, horror and homicide, while her diary records a bright life of happy triumphs.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Coming To NoirCon 2014?


Have you registered?
Have you made your hotel reservation?
Special Noircon Rate ends on Monday, September 29th, 2014.

NoirCon 2014 Updated Schedule of Events to Follow