Rarely has a book had a more perfect title. I am a huge fan of "Weasels Ripped My Flesh!", the previous anthology of men's adventure mag stories put out by this team, and so I eagerly ordered this book the very moment I saw it listed. In a word, it's great. These stories may be trash, they may be pulp, they may have been quickly written to order and on tight deadlines, but, man, what great pulp trash they are. If you're a fan of vintage Jim Thompson or Charles Willeford or Richard Stark you will love Walter Kaylin. If you love Mickey Spillane you will love Kaylin even more, because he's better. Oh, hell, just buy the damn thing! I have to get off now because I want to reread some of them...
I have been waiting for this book ever since reading Weasels Ripped My Flesh. This collection of short stories by Walter Kaylin delivers the goods. Excellent well written stories that start off fast, lead you on a roller coaster ride holding onto nitro, and finish with a bang. Two fisted writing at its best. More please.
A little while ago this reviewer had the joy of discovering the fiction world of Men’s Adventure Magazines that proliferated the newsstands of the 50s, 60s and 70s via a wonderful anthology titled, “Weasels Ripped My Flesh.” Amongst the great and wacky stories in that were a few by a writer named Walter Kaylin who the editors claimed was one of the most prolific writers for those magazines.
“He-Men, Bag Men & Nymphos,” is an entire collection of Kaylin’s amazing work with fifteen stories featured within its pages. They represent the entire spectrum of this he-man brand of pulp fiction; from modern day gangsters, to south sea island sirens to western outlaws and surfing assassins. This book has it all making us marvel at the boundless imagination that produced these outlandish tales. There are even a few factual articles mixed amongst them. Of these, the most gripping is Kaylin’s account of the U.S.S Indianapolis and its fate when sunk in the last days of World War II. It is a harrowing tale comprised from documented naval records and survivors’ testimonies.
Going from fact to fiction has no diminishing effects on any of Kaylin’s work, all of it is brilliant and written with a flare, no matter how boring the subject material. Which brings us to the one piece we feel should have been omitted; “The Army’s Terrifying Death Bugs and Loony Gas.” It is dated 1960 and is report on the state of the military’s research into chemical warfare. It is the only piece that doesn’t belong here. But hey, fourteen bulleyes out of fifteen shots is a damn impressive score.
Which is as good a way as any to describe Walter Kaylin’s wrtings. He was a master at his craft of spinning pulp tall tales and the fun he had writing them infects his readers as well. Bravo, Bob Deis and Wyatt Doyle; that’s two homeruns in a row. Please, keep swinging for the fences. We love this stuff.
The title of this review is something one hears a lot these days but never is it more true than with this incredible collection from the past! Unselfconscious, non-PC, hard-hitting, action-packed tales aimed specifically at men? This doesn't happen too often in the modern day where far too much fiction is geared to the lowest common denominator in order to have the widest appeal. And real men are an endangered species.
Back in the 50s and 60s, as the pulps were in the process of morphing into paperback originals, a bevy of men's magazines flourished. With titles like Men True Adventure, For Men Only, Male, Stag or just plain Men, these magazines offered up action yarns, "true" crime accounts, "true" war accounts and the like. No messages, no political agendas, no hand-holding and no political correctness, the tales in these pages were unleashed upon an unsuspecting world for one reason and one reason only: to entertain! Violence, bloodshed, unrelenting action and just plain, flat out fun, was the order of the day. Grab the reader by the throat and choke the life of out of him.
Now thanks to editors Robert Deis and Wyatt Doyle the best of these rip-roaring tales are being collected for new readers to marvel at. HE-MEN, BAG MEN & NYMPHOS collects 15 fantastic tales by Walter Kaylin. Considered by many to be the king of the testosterone tale, Kaylin does not disappoint. These tales start hard and fast, rocketing along and you've just got to keep turning pages to find out what happens next. And that "gotta" begins with the titles: "Meet Our Terms Or We Destroy 500 Million People", "Surf Pack Assassins", "Snow-Job From A Redhead", "The Helicopter Hero and the 100 Ladies of 'Undress Atoll'"... Reading titles like these, how can you NOT want to read the stories?
Well, now you can! This collection is the very paragon of reading pleasure. Kaylin knows how to tell a story and does an excellent job with each approach he employs here. Action abounds, bullets fly, the world is saved a time or two and character pieces present us with three-dimensional glimpses into tough guys in the thick of the action. Reading through the collection I was taken with how fresh the reading experience was. Sure, the stories are dated but the approach, the pacing, the quick characterizations were such a great change of pace from modern day doorstops where it takes 300 pages for something to happen. In these tales it takes about 300mm of text before something blows up.
If you want to see what fiction was like before the branding, corporate-controlled, ghost-written, careful pap we are spoon fed these days, then this collection is the place to start. This was when fiction was fun! Even if you're not a fan but are simply in the mood for something different to occupy your reading time, this collection fits the bill. The retro cover design, reproductions of the original magazine covers and title pages, essays on Kaylin and words from the man himself take you back in time to the newsstand of the 1960s where you've got a dollar and a hankering for some escape. I loved the book start to finish and I can only hope another Kaylin collection is in the works. Pick it up. You'll be glad you did.
Very entertaining collection of stories from the men's "sweat" magazines from the '60s and '70s. The stories range from short, punchy action pieces to longer, dramatic tales, filled with danger and intrigue. The biographical information at the beginning talked about how the writer churned these stories out, much the way the pulp writers did in the '30s and '40s, and it's amazing that they are so well-written. I think I enjoyed the first volume "Weasels Ripped My Flesh!" a little more because some of the stories here, like the one about the sinking of the USS Indianapolis, seemed a more realistic and less outlandish than the stories in "Weasels...", but there's lots of good stuff here to keep the pages turning.
As a collector of vintage men's magazines, i've had a great time going back and reading the short fiction of that era, particularly those stories that appeared in the adventure titles. The world was a different place then (which goes without saying), and the culture of the time - especially that meant to be enjoyed by men when women weren't around - now seems like a long-lost relic to be marveled at in a museum. Even aside from the lack of political correctness, the world-view of those magazines was so incredibly masculine - a concept now almost vanished - that you can practically smell the sweat and gunpowder.
I had never noted the name of Walter Kaylin, although I had undoubtedly read several of his stories. But he was the sort of writer whose style was perfect for this outlet: not much for navel-gazing or even intricate characterization, but top-heavy with action, with plots that moved forward quickly and smoothly. His prose nicely fit the types of stories he chose to write: dialog that moved things forward; descriptions that enhanced the narrative; and plenty of active verbs. This was fiction where the concentration was on *action*, where gunplay and a quick right-hook might make an appearance at any time.
I had a lot of fun with this book. There aren't many writers turning out this kind of meat-and-potatoes fiction any more. Too bad! I long to be able to get into a time machine and go back to an era when I could pick up a good read off the newsstand for a quarter. Until then, anthologies like this one are the next best thing.
The Kaylin stories in the excellent WEASELS RIPPED MY FLESH collection left me hungry for more and this book delivered in spades. It's like having a year's worth of adventure matinees crammed into a lean, mean fighter with a wicked hook and a damaging jab, a gun in both hands and a knife the size of his forearm in his teeth. Not only are these stories highly entertaining, they manage to be genuinely tough even when they're unabashedly preposterous, and frequently dive into places darker and more intense than you expect, even given their gritty milieu. Kaylin's prose is never so florid that it gets in the way of his masterful compressed storytelling. The guy is definitely a writer's writer. Kudos to Wyatt Doyle and Bob Deis for giving these stories the attention and presentation they deserve.
Enjoyable short stories ~10-20 pages or so with original black and white illustrations-took off a star because "Surf Pack Assassins" story never mentions a surfboard-mounted air-cooled .30 MG with tripod and ammo box(only in cool title page pic)-D-Day could have been so much easier!