Sunday, January 16, 2011

Stark House Newsletter

(Ed here: A little late with this one. Sorry, Greg.)

Hello Everyone,

We’re just a week or so away from shipping Peter Rabe’s wonderful pair of previously unpublished novels, The Silent Wall and The Return of Marvin Palaver. About The Silent Wall, Keir Graff of Booklist said that “It’s a claustrophobic noir, at times almost unbearably tense, and would certainly have a following if it had already been published.”

Cullen Gallagher’s blog, Pulp Serenade, has been revisiting some already classic Rabe books, and regarding The Return of Marvin Palaver, he says: “Funny and inventive, The Return of Marvin Palaver shows us a new side to Rabe. His hardboiled novels were always a shade witty, but here he fleshes out the humor and runs with it. A really enjoyable, quick read.”

And with the bonus of the rare Rabe short story, “Hard Case Redhead,” this volume offers not only the trademark Rabe style but different shades of this wonderful talent. It won’t disappoint. To paraphrase Frank Sinatra, “If you don’t like these books, you don’t like ice cream.”

A question: What kind of books were written by some of the paperback era’s most popular and prolific writers, that featured elements of crime, an (un)healthy dose of violence, and an even bigger dose of larger-than-life fantasy women? Here’s a hint: sometimes you wrap a Hemingway cover around them when you ride the train or take them to the doctor’s office.

Yes, they’re books that have come to be known as “sleaze” novels. While that may or may not be a good label, there is some truly entertaining fiction hiding under that umbrella that deserves to be read. The genre seems to be undergoing a bit of a resurgence lately, with books by Lawrence Block, Donald E. Westlake and others coming back into print.

We offer you a pair of books by Don Elliott, the not-so-secret pseudonym of the one and only Robert Silverberg, author of such books as Dying Inside, Nightwings, Lord Valentine’s Castle, and many, many more. Silverberg may be known primarily for his science fiction work, but he has written everything from history books to crime fiction to yes, sleaze.

The original books, Gang Girl and Sex Bum, have long been sought after by collectors and those avid few who have been working through the years to uncover and identify who wrote which of these “sleaze classics.” They’re being reprinted here together for the first time.

As entertaining as these books are, the introduction to the book by Silverberg himself is a brilliant evocation of the times and the circumstances that gave rise to this genre. The intro itself will make you want to read these books and perhaps look for more by other favorite writers of the time. If you felt perhaps a bit uncomfortable picking up a sleaze title, Silverberg puts the books into a context that is both fascinating as a historical snapshot and gives the reader a non-apologetic enthusiasm to dip a toe in these once “forbidden” waters:

“…And because we all worked under pen names, we were free to let our inhibitions
drop away and push our characters to their limits, without worrying
about what anyone else — friends, relatives, book reviewers — might
say or think about our work. We had ourselves a ball, and got paid nicely
while we were doing it.
And also we never forgot that we were doing the fundamental thing that
writers are supposed to do: providing pleasure and entertainment for
readers who genuinely loved our work.”
-Robert Silverberg, from his introduction to the Stark House volume of Gang Girl/Sex Bum, “Those Good Old Soft-core Days”

Exciting stuff--undiscovered Rabe and re-discovered Silverberg (er, make that Don Elliott). We hope you give both a try.

And as always, you can receive these books and every new Stark House Press book fresh from the printer with our own Crime Club. See our website ( for details (including info on a limited time discount special for new subscribers), or shoot an e-mail to And to subscribe or unsubscribe to this newsletter, use the same address.


Greg Shepard, publisher

Stark House Press


Matt Paust said...

Good as ice cream, eh? How can I resist?

Anonymous said...

This all begs the question: why were you sitting on these Rabe novels for so long? It seems like they were being written when Black Lizard was in it's heyday?

Dan Luft