Sunday, November 26, 2017
So, what have I been reading lately?
The short answer is: not much pulp. Back in late October I caught a cold that seemed to go away after a few days, but by early November it was back as something more like full-blown flu. I functioned minimally, dragging myself to work and back but not doing much otherwise. When my eyes stopped watering enough to let me read, my interest turned to non-fiction, particularly books on the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia 100 years ago. I finally started feeling better a week ago and I became conscious of neglecting pulp fiction. It was easy to start up again on the daily commute, and the good people of the Yahoo pulpscans group have been doing heroic work making vintage pulp available in scanned form for me to choose from. One relatively recent scan was the March 30, 1926 issue of Adventure. This was a milestone issue marking the end of the magazine's thrice-monthly schedule, which began back in October 1921. Editor Arthur Sullivant Hoffman put a brave face on it, explaining that it was necessary to cut back because readers hadn't been able to keep up with the serials while promising that editorial standards would be even higher, as would the quality of the fiction, now that Adventure would come out less frequently. I'll let more extensive readers judge that, but I'm sure there was a more bottom-line explanation for the change than Hoffman let on. In any event, this issue itself was the usual mixed bag. I found myself with little patience for the lead novel, W. Townend's "A Light for His Pipe," which promised only to be an interminable feud of two crews of sailors. Nor did I bother with the fourth chapter (of five total) of Hugh Pendexter's serial "Log Cabin Men." These longest stories aside, there was still plenty of entertaining content. I'll deal with some of them in more detail later, but for now I'll note Walter J. Coburn's "Smiley," a short tale of a slightly sozzled, slightly crazy but ultimately heroic saloon swamper, and Robert Carse's "In the Boneyard," an atmospheric anecdote in which a mutilated U.S. Navy vet of the great war encounters a German U-boat officer on a repentant pilgrimage to America, even though the German has less to repent of than some of his peers. Over the week to come I'll review some of the longer stories as I get back into the swing of this pulp-blogging thing. I hope no one missed me too much!