DANGER IS MY BUSINESS by Lee Server
Before he became known for his excellent biographies of Robert Mitchum, Ava Gardner and Samuel Fuller, Server wrote and co-edited several books about noir. I collaborated with him on two of them. His knowledge of noir films made me feel like the tourist I am.
He also wrote one of the finest books on pulp fiction I've ever read, Danger is My Business. It's filled with full colors of cover from every genre of pulps and stories about the writers and artists and editors who made them so successful for two decades. Just one example--do you know how Myrna Loy got her last name? I didn't. It turns out the mysterious Peter Ruric, author of Fast One and several classic hardboiled Black Mask stories, gave it to her when she was still a dancer in a nightclub. Very little is known about Ruric who's real name was George Sims and who was born not far from Cedar Rapids.
Each genre gets it own chapter-horror, adventure-western, private eye, romance and sex, hero pulps and science fiction as well as a chapter on the so-called Fiction Factories that ruled pulp land.
The romance and sex chapter surprised me. These pulps took real risks given the prevailing morality of the era. Robert Leslie Bellems set the tone for the naughty hardboiled male writers while women turned in the real erotica.
Same with the horror pulps. Looking at the covers I'm struck by how many of them depicted female bondage. The scantily clad (and usually great looking) heroines were always tied up by some fiend.
We all know how a lot of blurbs work. One writer wants to help another writer so he praises the book. You can usually tell when the blurb writer is log rolling. "I don't think I've ever read a novel as stupendously suspenseful or as monumentally wonderful or as Nobel-worthy as Sure I Killed, I Killed Him Good. And there's print on every page! Honest!"
But here are two blurbs that ring true for sure.
"Danger is My Business Takes me back forty years to my beginnings. Thank God for the pulps!" Elmore Leonard
"Danger is My Business is pure gold. It is so much fun to read. Lee Server's enthusiasm is well-matched to a writing style so witty and a knowledge of the subject so wide-ranging that Danger I My Business is a total page-tuner, as involving as any of the magazines he's opened for us." Donald E. Westlake
This is a book that belongs in your library.
Yvette Banek, MURDER BY THE CLOCK, Rufus King
Joe Barone, BOUNDARY WATERS, William Kent Kruger
Les Blatt, BODY UNIDENTIFIED, John Rhode
Brian Busby, THE PYX, John Buell
Bill Crider THE VERSE BY THE SIDE OF THE ROAD, Frank Rowsome Jr.
Scott Cupp, KITT'S PEAK, Al Sarrantonio
Martin Edwards, NO MURDER, H.C. Bailey
Curt Evans, MURDER IN PASTICHE, Marion Mainwaring
Richard Horton, Three SF Novels from Scholastic, Del Rey, Key, Silverberg
Jerry House, THE TIME TUNNEL, Murray Leinster
George Kelley, BLACK MAN'S BURDEN, Mack Reynolds
Margot Kinberg, LONESOME POINT, Ian Vasquez
Rob Kitchin, ONE OR THE OTHER, John McFetridge
B.V. Lawson, BLUE OCTAVO, John Blackburn
Evan Lewis, THE CASE OF THE VELVET CLAWS, Erle Stanley Gardner
Steve Lewis, THE CASE OF THE VELVET CLAWS, Erle Stanley Gardner
Todd Mason, TURNING POINTS edited by Damon Knight; DREAM MAKERS: VOLUME II interviews conducted by Charles Platt
J.F. Norris, HELL ON FRIDAY, William Bogart
Matt Paust, AN ACCIDENTAL NOVELIST, Richard Wheeler
James Reasoner, THE RETURN OF CAPTAIN FUTURE Edmund Hamilton
Richard Robinson, FLASH CASEY, DETECTIVE, George Harmon Coxe
Gerard Saylor, AGENT 6, Tom Robb Smith
Kerrie Smith, INSIDE THE BLACK HORSE, Ray Girard
Kevin Tipple, FINN, Jon Clinch
TomCat, A CASE OF SPIRITS, Peter Lovesey
TracyK, THE BUTCHER'S BOY, Thomas Perry
Zybahn, THE BOTTOMS, Joe R. Lansdale