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New York, New York

Thursday, October 25, 2007
I went to New York on business this past weekend, business that involved an early morning van ride from Mahwah, New Jersey, into the wilds of the Hudson Valley... Accompanied by several grim-faced associates, I spent all day in the woods there. The only sound was the occasional scream...

Unfortunately it was nothing as fun as displosing of dead bodies - instead it was my company's annual disaster recovery exercise at the IBM facility in Sterling Forest, New York. The screams? That was me, watching as procedures that I had spent weeks, even, literally, years working on, go down in flames.

But on Friday, before the weekend of pain, we feasted in Manhattan, at Angelo's in Little Italy. For those who have never been to Little Italy (in reality reduced to just a few blocks of Mulberry Street), that area is so perfect it looks more like a Manhattan set on the backlot of a Hollywood studio - narrow streets, old brick apartment buildings standing right on the sidewalk, and parking lots that charged $10 per half hour. Which we had to use, because one of our number (she shall remain nameless) insisted that it would be more convenient to drive, so we wouldn't have to worry about train schedules. So drive we did. At great lenght. Two hours to go forty miles, in fact.

One more thing about Little Italy - it's now surrounded by New York's Chinatown, and that brings me to the book I finished on the flight home, Paul Malmont's The Chinatown Death Cloud Peril.

Peril features pulpsters Walter Gibson (creater of The Shadow) and Lester Dent (Doc Savage) teaming up to fight a globe-spanning conspiracy. Following a tip from a dying Howard Lovecraft, they seperately close in on a fiendish warlord whose discovery of a forgotten secret weapon threatens to plunge the world into chaos. A bit pulpy, you might say, but then that's the point!

The book is a hell of a lot of fun, with cameos of lots of well-known pulp writers, some of which are tricky to spot ("Chester", "Lew"), and told with obvious love for the magazines of the era.

Malmont is also involved in a project called Warrior Library, in which authors who have copies of their books just laying around send them to servicemen and -women overseas. If you are an author or publisher, please check it out at the very least. You're sure to make someone very happy, and maybe pick up a fan in the process.

Believe it or not, pulp is pretty easy to find these days. Adventure House is coming up on the 100th issue of their pulp reprint magazine, High Adventure, and has many other reprints and facsimiles available - though navigating their website can be something of a challenge. Vintage Library is another site that has a wide variety of pulp available - in fact, one of their double novels features The Golden Vulture, which plays an important role in The Chinatown Death Cloud Peril.

Speaking of Adventure House, here's a link I've been meaning to pass along for a while. Forty-five years ago, writer Charles Beaumont penned a loving eulogy called "The Bloody Pulps" (350k PDF). Beaumont does a good job capturing the appeal of what, by most definitions, is absolute dreck. Worth a look.

posted by Graham Powell at 3:19 PM