East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

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Counting the spicys

51frd3a577l-_ac_ul320_sr214320_Two days ago I posted on my Italian-language blog a few stats, derived and reworked from Jess Nevin’s The Pulps about the incidence of spicy pulps and romance pulps on the overall pulp magazines market.
Because by reading certain books about the pulps, sometimes it feels like the pulp magazine rack was somehow dominated by Adventure, and The Argosy, and Weird tales. Black Mask vied for space against the Astounding, the Amazing and the Unknown.
And then, oh, yes, there was Spicy Mysteries too.

The numbers of different magazines per category tell a different story. Continue reading

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61ijN1LocqL._SX373_BO1,204,203,200_As I think I mentioned already, I’ve found that giving myself little prizes when I close or I reach a way-point in a project.
Sort of a Pavlovian conditioning.
It’s easy to find some interesting, cheap reads that work quite nicely, and cost me as much (or as little) as a chocolate.

Tying up a minor project yesterday, landed on my Kindle Wildside’s The Spicy Adventure Megapack which collects 25 stories, you guessed it, from the spicy pulps.

For the uninitiated, the spicy pulps were an infamous sub-genre in the days of old – racy stories, risqué situations, naughty bits.
So far, I had a very limited experience with the spicy pulps, and this is a good opportunity for learning something new.

No, wait… not in that sense.

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Other People’s Pulp: The Hawksian woman

62c6a44de21381ca7e7aedd4f06a0a6fIt was all because of Carole Lombard.
So beautiful it hurt, and very talented, actress Carole Lombard1 was the queen of the screwball comedy movies, and back in the days she was the highest paid star in Hollywood.

I think I first got struck by Lombard when I first saw Ernst Lubitsch‘s To Be or Not to Be, and afterwards I tried to track as many of her movies as possible.
I like her very much2.
It was by reading up on Lombard that I got deeper into screwball comedies, the so called sex comedies without sex that Hollywood developed to counter the Hays Code.

What fascinates me to this day is the fact that screwball comedy is sort of the mirror opposite of the noir genre.
Sexual tension, gender politics and the roles of man and woman in society, class struggle and social critique are all there, as is the idea of the male lead being somewhat dazed and confused, and a victim of his own role – it was all there in both genres, played for thrills in noir, and for laughs in screwball comedy. Continue reading