Well, I guess Otto Penzler settled THAT argument. Ever since the Forties there have been discussions about which collection of stories best gives a real idea of what pulp magazines were like in breadth and scope. The Hardboiled Omnibus edited by Joseph "Cap" Shaw has always been the most prestigous because Shaw was for years the editor of Black Mask, the magazine both Hammett and Chandler called home.
There have since been many others. I've even co-edited a few pulp collections myself. Each book has its own merits--particuarly Ron Goulart's Hardboiled Dicks--but nothing, nothing even approximates The Black Lizard Book of Pulps that Otto Penzler edited and that Random House has just released.
Over a thousand densley packed pages. Reprint of pulp illustrations. Fascinating biographies of each writer. Commentary by Harlan Coben, Harlan Ellison and Laura Lippman. AND MORE THAN 1000 pages.
Yes, Hammett is here and with an original story. Chndler is here, too. So is Cain. So is Horace McCoy. And so are some of lesser names still familiar to readers of the pulps--Carroll John Daly, Frederick Nebel, George Harmon Coxe and Frank Gruber among others. My favorite of the lesser knowns, Norbert Davis, has two stories (Chandler, Hammett and Woolrich have three each.) All well and good. Great great stuff.
But what makes this collection notable for me is the inclusion of many writers I've never heard of before and the diversity of story material they chose. Most hardboiled anthologies leave the impression that the magazines were filled with straightforward private eye and police procedural tales. Not so. And this anthology proves it. The material ranges from the waterfront to the newspaper office to outre chambers that may be under supernatural assault. In other words, if you went to a newsstand in 1935 you could buy seven or eight crime fiction magazines and get everything from The Saint (included here) to those in touch with the dead.
This is the one and only. No doubt about it. A true masterpiece. AND MORE THAN 1000 pages for only $25 in an extremely handsome package. Witht the holidays sneaking up on us, I don't have to tel you what to get that crime fiction fan do I?