Lee Server Danger Is My Business

ISBN 13: 9780811803557

Danger Is My Business

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9780811803557: Danger Is My Business
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At the turn of the century, America saw the rapid rise of a new literary phenomenon: the pulps. Named "pulps" for the cheap paper on which they were printed, these wildly inventive periodicals featured bold titles, such as Weird Tales, Astounding Stories, and Spicy Detective. Adorned with bright, often garish covers they could be bought for as little as a dime, yet they offered outrageous selections of burgeoning popular fiction, from tales of horror and science fiction to lurid romances and hard-boiled detective stories.
As the popularity of the pulps increased, certain fictional characters, such as Tarzan, Zorro, Doc Savage, Sam Spade, Hopalong Cassidy, and Conan the Barbarian were immortalized, and a new eccentric and hearty breed of writer emerged. Churning out these stories for a penny-a-word or less became the proving ground for hundreds of struggling authors, many of whom have since become the most widely read writers of this century, including Edgar Rice Burroughs, Dashiell Hammett, Louis L'Amour, Ray Bradbury, H.P. Lovecraft, and Raymond Chandler.
Danger Is My Business is about the rise and fall of the colorful pulps and the legendary publishers, editors, and writers who made them an unforgettable sensation. Capturing the mood of America in the Roaring Twenties and the years of the Great Depression, the text features exclusive, firsthand recollections by pulp veterans, who offer comical and poignant anecdotes and give this history a lively, behind-the-scenes perspective. With over 100 rare illustrations, including dozens of magazine covers, interior illustrations, and archival photos of pulp notables, Danger Is My Business is an essential item for both collectors and pop-culture enthusiasts.

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From Kirkus Reviews:

What do Sam Spade, Doc Savage, Tarzan, and the Shadow have in common? The same thing as Raymond Chandler, Isaac Asimov, Cornell Woolrich, and H.P. Lovecraft: They all cut their teeth on the pulps--which are accorded a magnificently illustrated, authoritative homage here by Brooklyn-based writer Server. To Server, ``pulp'' is no pejorative. Though he admits that many of the estimated one million stories that appeared in the pulps were mediocre (and he gleefully quotes from examples of the worst), he argues that the pulps created ``an innovative and lasting form of literature'' and that ``the pulp-created genres- -science fiction, private eye, Western, superhero--now dominate...every sort of mass entertainment.'' After tracing the birth of the pulps back to the 1882 launching of Golden Argosy magazine, printed on pulpwood pages, Server organizes his unwieldy subject into categories of pulps: adventure, romance and sex, horror and fantasy, private eye, weird menace, science fiction. Each receives a lively capsule history that covers trends, reader (and sometimes, as in the case of the ``Spicys,'' government) response, and writers' bios--which, though sketchy (Hammett's Hollywood experience gets one sentence), resurrect a number of relatively obscure but seminal and fascinating figures, like Conan- creator Robert E. Howard, who shot himself dead at age 30 on the day his mother died, and Frederick Faust (a.k.a. Max Brand), who sometimes wrote around the clock, piling up two or three million words a year. Server attributes the pulps' demise to, among other factors, the advent of TV, paperbacks, and comic books, and he winds up with a note on pulp-collecting. For all of the author's savvy, though, it's above all the eye- popping illustrations (100 color, 57 b&w) that will have readers beaming. Magazine covers (some lurid, some of eerie beauty), sample pages of text and ads (``Raise Giant Frogs'')--the pulps come alive once again here, in all their eccentric glory. -- Copyright ©1993, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

From Publishers Weekly:

Server, a veteran collector of pulp magazines, has written a nifty fan's history, enhanced with copious color illustrations from the "literary dream machines." Server maintains a lively style, describing how top pulp writers managed "a staggering, finger-bruising annual production of two and three million words." He interviewed several writers; one claims to have gained inspiration from names of horses in the Racing Form . Though the pulps were seen as publishing's stepchild, Server notes that they launched authors like Edgar Rice Burroughs, Raymond Chandler and Robert Heinlein, as well as genres from mystery to science fiction. He traces several varieties of pulps, including horror/fantasy chronicles like Weird Tales, private eye purveyors like Black Mask and romance compendiums like the Spicy magazines that were praised for their "wacky colloquial voice" (S. J. Perelman admired their language). By the early 1940s, however, comic books had begun to overtake the pulps, and paperback books, a favorite in soldiers' care packages, were given precious newsstand space. By 1954, the genre was dead, but as Server points out, the legacy lives on.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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