Thursday, January 31, 2013
Wednesday, January 30, 2013
Harry Whittington: The King of Pulp Originals
by Jason Starr
from Pulp Originals
by Jason Starr
from Pulp Originals
Harry Whittington was one of the most prolific writers in the history of fiction. From 1946 to 1984 he produced over 150 novels. At his peak he was, for twenty years (in the 50s and 60s), writing on average about seven novels a year. In today's era, where novelists, aided by computers, struggle to compete one book a year, Whittington's achievement was truly superhuman, never to be surpassed, the literary equivalent of DiMaggio's 52-game hitting streak.
One of the true work-horse writers of the pulp era, Whittington wrote in multiple genres and published additional books under such pseudonyms as Whit Harrison, Ashley Carter, Blaine Stevens, Tabor Evans and Robert Hart Davis. He also wrote screenplays and had a long relationship with Hollywood. While Whittington must have written very quickly to maintain his output, this wasn't a case of quantity over quality. While some of his books were more successful than others and some of his titles began to sound alike--they often contained the words "sin," "murder," and "hell"--he maintained an astounding integrity to his work throughout his career, spinning imaginative plots with crisp dialogue and clearly drawn, unforgettable characters. Maybe his writing wasn't as stylized as Thompson's, Goodis's or Cain's, but his plotting and dialogue was as great, or better.
Born in 1915 in Ocala, Florida, Whittington worked in government jobs before he started writing. He sold his first novel, Vengeance Valley, a western, in 1945. In the fifties, he turned his attention primarily to crime fiction, producing books for Fawcett. Crowned "the king of the paperback originals" by Bill Pronzini, he was the major pioneer of the pulp novel of the fifties, forging a path for writers such as Jim Thompson, Gil Brewer, Lionel White, Vin Packer, James McKimmey, John D. MacDonald and Lawrence Block.
Sadly, only seven of Whittington's novels are in print today, and several of these are as parts of expensive anthologies. Compared to other pulp writers from his era, Whittington's doing well. The overwhelming majority of novels written during "the golden age of the crime novel" are out of print and all but forgotten. While everyone has heard of Cain, Thompson, Goodis, and Willeford, many devoted fans of pulp fiction know nothing about the other great crime writers of the fifties and sixties. Of course not all of these out-of-print books are forgotten classics--some were written quickly for fast paychecks and read that way--but there are hundreds of thrilling crime novels by great authors that have been undeservedly ignored.
for the rest go here: http://pulporiginals.com/Contents-pulp/whittington-intro.html
Tuesday, January 29, 2013
Matt Helm meets Tina, an old World War II associate, who coerces him into helping her with her plans. Thinking she is still one of the good guys, he goes along. After finding out she isn't, he tries to forgive and forget. She kidnaps his daughter to force him to help her. He sets out to find his missing daughter with disastrous results for the WWII associate.
After a brief refresher course, Helm is sent to Sweden with the task of killing "Caselius," a pesky foreign agent. Using his experience as a photographer as his cover story, Matt Helm manages to identify "Caselius," track him to his lair, and permanently remove him from among the living.
"Donald Hamilton is one of the three best American thriller writers, the other two being Dashiell Hammett and Ross Thomas." John Fraser
I have to admit that I was never a big fan of Ian Fleming's. The Bond stuff was moderately amusing but I just never took to it. The late great Anthony Boucher said it best for me: "Donald Hamilton has brought to the spy novel the authentic hard realism of Dashiell Hammett; and his stories are as compelling, and probably as close to the sordid truth of espionage, as any now being told."
Historians have borne out just how realistic the Helm novels were. The Cold War was just as seamy, psychopathic and deadly as Hamilton insisted it was. One more plus is the style. This man could write the English language the way God intended--wry, brutal, dazzling.
I promise you--buy these first two Helms and you'll buy all the rest. He was a true master.