Vintage Pulp Jun 19 2021
LOST IN HOLLYWOOD
I always knew my movie career would end one day. But I thought it would at least start first.


Having spent some years in L.A., and having worked in entertainment there, we're drawn to Hollywood novels. Horace McCoy's I Should Have Stayed Home tells the story of Ralph Carston, twenty-something hot shit from Georgia, who heads out to Hell A. and learns that stardom is not easily achieved. This is a simple and unlayered tale, and considering what we know firsthand can happen in Hollywood, Ralph doesn't actually go through anything earth-shattering. Most of his problems stem from the fact that he's a pompous dumbass. He tries unsuccessfully to make connections, hooks up with a rich cougar who has a sexual fetish, goes to some parties, is warned he can't be a star with his southern accent, spends a few chapters infuriated by an interracial couple he sees at someone's house, battles professional envy, has a bit of strife with his roomie Mona, and deals with tragedy concerning his friend Dorothy. By the end he's grown terminally discouraged and cynical in a town that runs on hope. Dare we say it? He should have stayed home. 

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Vintage Pulp May 24 2021
PLAN AHEAD
And if this goes as well as I hope, you can kiss the day after that goodbye too.


Above, a cover for Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye by Horace McCoy, for Signet Books with art by James Avati. McCoy was one of the more hardboiled writers of his era, often swimming in the same end of the pool as Jim Thompson and James M. Cain. We'll talk about a couple of his books in detail later. This one was adapted into a film of the same name in 1950 starring James Cagney and Barbara Payton. It's one we haven't seen, but we'll get around to that too. 

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Vintage Pulp Nov 5 2017
OUT OF POCKETS
You're absolutely right! Because corpses don't need money, keys, gum, or any of that stuff. What was I thinking?


First of all, when we see a title like No Pockets in a Shroud and see an angry guy with a crushed piece of paper it seems to us that he's just decided to go back to the drawing board with something, possibly shroud design. Which is how we came up with our silly subhead. But the book isn't about shrouds at all. What happens is a newspaperman's rigid personal ethics compel him to expose corruption in the big city, including bribery in professional baseball, a crooked abortion ring, and a racist group that bears a strong resemblance to the KKK. This truth-telling will cost him of course, but exactly how much is the question.

The book was written by Horace McCoy, who is often called an underrated writer, but once multiple sources use that term, maybe you aren't underrated anymore. He wrote numerous tales for the classic pulp magazine Black Mask, as well as for Detective-Dragnet Magazine, Man Stories, et al, before branching out to author classic novels like Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye and They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? Generally, No Pockets in a Shroud is considered substandard for McCoy, but it has an interesting point of view. The rather intense cover art is signed “T.V.,” which we take to mean Tony Varaday. And the title, incidentally, is just another way of saying: You can't can't take it with you.

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Vintage Pulp Jul 9 2016
BEGGING FOR IT
Getting what you want is all in how you ask.


It seems as if no genre of literature features more characters in complete submission to others than mid-century sleaze. And how do these hapless supplicants express their desperation? They break out the kneepads. Above and below are assorted paperback covers of characters making pleas, seeking sympathy, and professing undying devotion. Though some of these folks are likely making the desired impression on their betters, most are being ignored, denied, or generally dumptrucked. You know, psychologists and serial daters say a clean break is best for all involved, so next time you need to go Lili St. Cyr on someone try this line: “I've decided I hate your face now.” That should get the job done. Art is by Harry Barton, Barye Philips, Paul Rader, et al.

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History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
September 23
1952—Chaplin Returns to England
Silent movie star Charlie Chaplin returns to his native England for the first time in twenty-one years. At the time it is said to be for a Royal Society benefit, but in reality Chaplin knows he is about to be banned from the States because of his political views. He would not return to the U.S. for twenty years.
September 22
1910—Duke of York's Cinema Opens
The Duke of York's Cinema opens in Brighton, England, on the site of an old brewery. It is still operating today, mainly as a venue for art films, and is the oldest continually operating cinema in Britain.
1975—Gerald Ford Assassination Attempt
Sara Jane Moore, an FBI informant who had been evaluated and deemed harmless by the U.S. Secret Service, tries to assassinate U.S. President Gerald Ford. Moore fires one shot at Ford that misses, then is wrestled to the ground by a bystander named Oliver Sipple.
September 21
1937—The Hobbit is Published
J. R. R. Tolkien publishes his seminal fantasy novel The Hobbit, aka The Hobbit: There and Back Again. Marketed as a children's book, it is a hit with adults as well, and sells millions of copies, is translated into multiple languages, and spawns the sequel trilogy The Lord of Rings.
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