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Pulp Modern (Volume 2) Paperback – May 7, 2017
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About the Author
Editor Alec Cizak is a writer and filmmaker from Indianapolis. His work has appeared in several journals and anthologies. His novella DOWN ON THE STREET will be available from ABC Group Documentation on June 16, 2017. Art Director Richard Krauss was diagnosed with struggling artist’s syndrome in 1968. He followed the advice of a work-for-hire career councilor and peter principled through a string of ventures in art, design and production, culminating in a career creating unequivocal marketing constructs. Despite success in corporational marketing for over twenty years, fictive dreams kept inciting digressions. Thus, stories sprung, inspired by true crime reports, places like Painesville, Ohio and fortean truths and rumors.
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While every reader in the world has differing tastes and dislikes, I will admit that not all of these stories were my cup of tea. Some read like a workshopped version of a generic prompt that ended up decent, but still somewhat trite. Others were predictable and slow, but not the worst thing in the world.
Others, though, I loved. Exciting and leaving me wanting more, I didn't move until the story was finished. Engaging plots and characters with well written prose, I felt honored to be published alongside some of these other authors. And as short as they all are, it didn't take long to get to the end.
That's the thing--this isn't one of those anthologies with 100 page stories that take forever to get to the point (if there even is one). All 13 of these are stories that set a scene, tell you what they need, and end with a sense of finality that is getting harder and harder to come by anymore. What you take away from them is up to you.
You can't argue about the cost or the presentation, but what's really important here is the writing. Maybe you'll love all 13 stories, maybe you'll hate them, but in the end, you won't be able to deny you've felt something, and that's what it's all about.
After that, I'm genuinely sad to say, it was pretty much downhill from there. I guess my problem is I was expecting more crime fiction based on the cover and the name than what I found inside. The closest thing to it and the best story was Tim P. Walker's "Maddy Lee Reviews The Movie They Made About Her And Buck." This had the advantage of being about characters whose lives and activities seemed to bear some resemblance to real, actual people living hardscrabble lives in the backwoods who took to crime as an easy, quick way to get money. Even it didn't really generate much tension or suspense.
Other than that, none of the other stories in this collection did much for me. "The Hand We're Dealt," by Michael Wertenberg did create a macabre, Poe like atmosphere, but the climax lacked the ironic twist of poetic justice found in "A Cask Of Amontillado." Other stories I didn't care for at all and couldn't even finish. "La Cross" by Stephen D. Rogers is about vampires playing lacrosse at night with lethal consequences while a female, human journalist watches through night vision goggles. This is probably just me, but why are people so fixed on vampires and zombies and all these other stale tropes? It seems done to death to me.
Most of the other stories seemed to fit in the same round hole, tales of people being haunted, a little boy confronted by a mysterious stranger, etc. This certainly qualifies as pulp along the lines of Weird Tales I suppose. I guess most of my disappointment stems from the fact that I hoped to read something more along the lines of Black Mask, hardboiled crime fiction.
My taste doesn't fit very well with most other folks, so I leave it to you to decide, but like I said, this didn't do much for me.