- Series: Mammoth Books
- Paperback: 512 pages
- Publisher: Running Press; 1st Carroll & Graf ed edition (June 24, 1996)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0786703008
- ISBN-13: 978-0786703005
- Product Dimensions: 7.8 x 5.1 x 1.8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 12 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #897,292 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Mammoth Book of Pulp Fiction (Mammoth Books) Paperback – June 24, 1996
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Top customer reviews
Any "Mammoth Book of..." in an area that interests you is always a great buy. This book is not quite at the overall top notch quality of the "Mammoth Book of Private Eye Stories" yet is a very solid buy.
As a Pulp Era collector and researcher, I had to have it. However, as a reader, there are some definite speed bumps in this collection.
Well, you can't have it all. Nevertheless, worth a read.
This book was a huge disappointment to me.
Pulp writers did it for the money - and in some cases also produced great works of art, like James M. Cain's "Mildred Pierce." Unfortunately, most of the stories in this collection read like something knocked out on deadline to a precise word count - and once the writer hit that word count, he dropped it in the mail and headed for the corner bar.
Lawrence Block's "A Candle for the Bag Lady" is the worst offender - the writer sets up a fascinating premise in which a seemingly homeless woman, newly murdered, turns out to have distributed her substantial wealth in a complex will naming random strangers. Where did the money come from? Why was she living in such reduced circumstances? And why in the world did she choose these beneficiaries - the owner of a local newspaper stand, a neighbor she rarely spoke to, the detective himself - when her real friends and acquaintances got nothing at all? And how is all this linked to her murder?
We'll never know, because when Block hits his word count, he has a new character show up in the detective's corner bar and say, "I hear you are looking for the murderer. Well, I did it. I just felt like killing someone. Would you mind coming with me to the police station?" End of story. (Sorry to spoil it for those who haven't read it, but it's hard to imagine that anyone could spoil it more than Block himself.)
The Cain and Spillane contributions here are bores - truly not their best work. The one top-class story, Donald E. Westlake's "Ordo" , is also available in another collection, "Pulp Masters." I would recommend that book instead of this one.
On the downside, there are no author introductions for the individual stories to provide them context. Nor are all of the stories first rate. A couple of them veer into the supernatural, which doesn't seem to fit the theme. They range in time period from the early 1930s to the mid-1990s but are not chronologically sequenced. Nevertheless, as a reader you can certainly pick and choose, making this collection worthwhile for any fan of hard-boiled short crime fiction.