PULP News: An Anthology of Pulp Interest

25 Feb

There is often too much for PULPable to cover in any one post, so today we take a brief look at some of the more esoteric, eccentric, and exciting news in our little world of femme fatales and silhouettes.

Margaret Atwood’s “In Love with Raymond Chandler”

Recently revisited by both Roger Ebert and many others is a Margaret Atwood poem from her collection Good Bones, titled “In Love With Raymond Chandler”.

The full text of the poem can be found here, if you prefer using your eyes to using your ears, but Atwood makes for a perfect reader in the video above. She draws us into the physical and descriptive world of Chandler’s prose by focusing not on “mangled bodies and/the marinated cops and hints of eccentric sex, but [on] his interest in furniture.”

He knew that furniture could breathe, could feel, not as we do but in a way more muffled,

like the word upholstery, with its overtones of
mustiness and dust, its bouquet of sunlight on aging cloth or of scuffed leather on the backs and seats of sleazy
office chairs.

Who knew furniture could be so exciting? For Atwood, the “eccentric sex” comes only later:

Only after we
had sniffed, fingered, rubbed, rolled on, and absorbed the furniture of the room would
we fall into each other’s arms, and onto the bed (king-size? peach-colored? creaky?
narrow? four-posted? pioneer-quilted? lime-green chenille-covered?), ready at last to do
the same things to each other.

You only have to flip a few pages into The Big Sleep to see evidence of Chandler’s furniture obsession:

The white carpet that went from wall to wall looked like a fresh fall of snow at Lake Arrowhead. There were full-length mirrors and crystal doodads all over the place. The ivory furniture had chromium on it, and the enormous ivory drapes lay tumbled on the white carpet a yard from the window.

*        *        *

Philip K. Dick: Blade Runner & the State of Science Fiction

Another PULPable favourite, Philip K. Dick, also came to our attention with a previously unpublished correspondence with a studio executive working on Blade Runner, the adaptation of his novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, from 1981.

Based on what he has seen of the movie, and on Harrison Ford’s interviews to promote it, Dick believes that it “will prove invincible”. The whole letter is a fascinating read.

Though some Dick adaptations are best forgotten (Paycheck, anyone?), it is true that Blade Runner broke new ground on its release. Setting action and science fiction in an urban, gritty milieu, and focusing on high sci-fi concepts, it brought some of Dick’s intellectual musings to an otherwise straightforward genre. Without Blade Runner, it is unlikely that we would have had hard science fiction like Inception or Duncan Jones‘ upcoming Mute on our screens.

And though Dick died several months before the movie was released, it’s hard not to smile at his enthusiasm:

Nothing that we have done, individually or collectively, matches BLADE RUNNER. This is not escapism; it is super realism, so gritty and detailed and authentic and goddam convincing.

*        *        *

Dashiell Hammett’s Lost Works Recovered

Perhaps most exciting is the recent announcement that a cache of lost Dashiell Hammett stories has been found in the literary archives of the Harry Ransom Centre at the University of Texas in Austin. Uncovered by Andrew Gulli, editor of pulp magazine The Strand, one of the fifteen stories will be published in the next issue of the magazine.

The Guardian‘s article gives us a sneak preview of said story, titled “So I Shot Him”:

Rainey screwed himself around in his chair to see us better, or to let us see him better.

I was sitting next to him, a little to the rear. Above the porch rail his profile stood out sharp against the twilight gray of the lake, though there was nothing sharp about the profile itself. It had been smoothly rounded by thirty-five or more years of comfortable living.

Artist Owen Smith's interpretation of Hammett

“I wouldn’t have a dog that was cat-shy,” he wound up. “What good is a dog, or a man, that’s afraid of things?” Metcalf, the engineer, agreed with his employer. I had never seen him do anything else in the three days I had known them.

“Quite right,” he said. “Useless.”

Rainey twisted his face farther around to look at me. His blue eyes – large and clear – had the confident glow they always wore when he talked. You only had to have him look at you once like that to understand why he was a successful promoter.

PULPable looks forward to some more classic Hammett, but we will no doubt have to wait until his estate and his publisher put together an official collection of lost pulp gems.

DLR, 2.25.11


2 Responses to “PULP News: An Anthology of Pulp Interest”

  1. Jamie February 25, 2011 at 4:26 pm #

    Great post. I love the Philip K. Dick letter, especially: it’s touching how much he loved the movie. Did that studio exec really care about the state of science fiction, though?

  2. DLR February 25, 2011 at 4:35 pm #

    I don’t think the execs were too worried about what Dick thought of anything at the time. It’s sort of amazing the movie got made at all, given that he was really just a “non-literary” pulp writer.

    Blade Runner is a great movie, though I do object to the 500 versions of it that Ridley Scott insists on releasing.

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