Saturday, February 24, 2007

Stephen Marlowe & Etc.

The response to Steve Marlowe's piece on collaborating with Richard Prather was so positive I asked Steve if he'd ever considered writing his autobigraphy. Steve said his wife Ann had urged him to. Now I was urging him to. And now Stark House is urging him to. And with a contract in the offing, it looks as if it may just happen. This would be a major addition to the history of our field and the story of a remarkable man and writer. Stay tuned.

We're socked in by a major ice storm with 6-8 inches of snow on top of it predicted for tonight. Fortunately, I have four E. Howard Hunt novels I've yet to read. Of the three I've read, The House on Q Street is still the best. And when you read three in a series back to back you begin to see the similar narrative patterns. The Steve Bentley books, I suspect, are his best work except for his three early literary novels. They're gentler versions of Donald Hamilton's Matt Helm stories, which the early ones pre-date by four or five years.

So much gentler, in fact, that in most places where cliche violence would take place, Bentley manages to contrive a way around it. He even expresses occasional sympathy for a bad guy.

This was apparently before Hunt went nuts. Only a few years later he would be involved in the Bay of Pigs disaster, so pissed at Jack Kennedy for calling it off that he continued to fly over the beaches where the insurgents were to show his support. It's been argued that that was a misguided act of courage, one that could well have cost him his life. And maybe so. He was going against orders to return to base. And he was certainly endangering his life.

But suggesting that he wear a red wig and parachute into Cuba to bump off Castro? My only explanation for that is that he'd already met G. (for Great God A-mighty!) Gordon Liddy who at this point in his history was being admonished by a judge for waving a pistol around in the court room, a pistol Liddy was placing in evidence and assuring the judge was empty. It wasn't, of course (this being a Thre Stooges episode) and when it went off the Judge was wise enough to duck, even though the bullet smashing into the wall a safe three or feet from his bench and wouldn't have hurt him. Liddy was apparently ALWAYS crazy. But you have to wonder what happened to Hunt somewhere along the line.


mybillcrider said...

Great news about the possibility of a Marlowe bio. I hope this comes to fruition.

Anonymous said...

I read a couple of Hunt's Gold Medal novels many many years ago, but the only thing I remember now -- if my memory is to be trusted -- was a scene in a nightclub that appeared to have been, um, inspired by the scene in the Harlem nightclub in LIVE AND LET DIE.

A novel by Scooter Libby was reprinted last year after he was indicted in the Valerie Plame case. I haven't mustered sufficient interest to check it out.

Anonymous said...

Glad, as is Bill, that Marlowe has been encouraged to accept the Stark House contract.

In my 12 years of living in the DC area, I met a few of the sort of literary type that I take Hunt to have been...guys who decided that they could/should be the kind of Heroes they wrote and read about...the kind who studied up on manners to kill people in three seconds or with one move. They gravitated toward the CIA and such, of course. (Then there are the writers who start cults....)